Tag Archives: Patti Smith

Beat Films at BIFF + Wholly Communion

The Brisbane International Film Festival program has now been released and it features two of the films I have been hotly anticipating for some time.

Howl, starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, which has been receiving rave reviews worldwide and William S. Burroughs: A Man Within, a feature length documentary featuring never before seen footage of Burroughs and interviews with Laurie Anderson, John Waters, David Cronenberg, Amiri Baraka, Anne Waldman, Diane DiPrima and a soundtrack by Patti Smith and Sonci Youth.

Definitely two great reasons to get along to this year’s festival… sadly, I will be away for the duration of the festival, so if like me, you can’t get along and catch these films, here’s a treat for you…

I recently came across the film Wholly Communion, Peter Whitehead’s documentary of the legendary Beat reading at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 1965. It was described as an evening of near-hallucinatory revelry and featured readings by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Allen Ginsberg, Alexander Trocchi, Adrian Mitchell & many others.

 Here are the links to watch (the majority of) the film, so get yourself comfortable (drinks, nibbles, whatever takes you…) and take in a slice of literary history!






Filed under discussions, poetry & publishing

Patti Smith’s first book of prose

Bohemian goddess Patti Smith has just released her first book of prose, a memoir, a-la-Bob Dylan’s Chronicles vol. 1, titled Just Kids which details her remarkable relationship with photographer, Robert Mapplethorpe and the romanticism and mythmaking of their life in New York in the late 60’s/early 70’s.

Here’s a link to a great article in the New York Times – Bohemian Soul Mates in Obscurity.

And with my mind swirling with visions of Patti, I just had to share this clip of her ripping up Horses and Hey Joe… epically raw!

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Desert(ed) Island Poems #10 – Robert Lort

Brace yourself for this one folks… there are some turbulent seas ahead as we sail this leaking ship to the Desert(ed) Island of Robert Lort.




Photo by Sharka Bosakova: taken opposite the ‘Poet’s Cafe’ in Montville


“I am the first to wear your shackles like a bracelet” (Cohen)

– Apologies to William Burroughs and Kathy Acker, you didn’t write enough poetry.


Rimbaud – Une Saison D’Enfer / A Season In Hell

L’enfant terrible of French poetry, a revolutionary and visionary genius who, in disillusioned disgust, defiantly threw poetry to the wind, aged only 21 to become an enterprising, global-roaming capitalist. A real rock’n’roll nigger of the earth, he flung words like a tormented starving savage, systematically disordering all the senses, in a pent-up, bohemian, absinthe-soaked rebellion. Poetry is but a farce. Il est une autre!

Read the poem here: http://www.mag4.net/Rimbaud/poesies/Season.html


Patti Smith – Babelfield

Patti Smith normally talks about her discovery of Rimbaud at a Philadelphia bus depot bookshop, aged 16. Patti Smith was perhaps the only cherished find that a family member ever dropped into my lap, from a pile of 40 or so dusty ’70s LPs there stood “Easter” with it’s uplifted hairy armpit, I was instantly captivated. This feverish, slipshod, wide-eyed, barefoot girl carved out the very path between poetry and rock’n’roll. A live version of “Babelfield” was released on the rare 12” “Set Free,” the printed version here is but slightly different.

“wherein war is expressed
thru the violent hieroglyphs
of sound and motion
a scream is a shoulder
the profile of life
raised are our instruments – sonic necks
lubricants of aggression and flesh
notes pierce the body round
wounds are cherished blessed and bound
by boys posed before the spinal region
of the parthenon…”


Daevid Allen – <theordinaryaustralian@y2k>

I first saw Daevid Allen, in all his nakedness, performing with members of Japan’s heavy psychedelic band Acid Mothers Temple. As head of legendary trip-out band Gong, Daevid Allen is like a Dr Seuss on bad acid, delivering bent and dirty nursery rhymes from on top a giant towering mushroom. Unabashed, dirty, in yr face, perverse and political (without pining for attention votes), Daevid Allen is a word toting terrorist, a delinquent yahoo with a high IQ, high on contamination, bursting with provocative ephemera.“The Ordinary Australian” comes from his “Poet For Sale” where he lampoons that ordinary suburban Ozzie, “Those ordinary decent small time insensitive stupid dim witted arrogant aggressive lying bad tempered shit centred over paid over fed lazy spoilt brat…” What greater prestige is there, than getting kicked out of the Woodford Folk Festival for saying ‘FUCK’ in a poem?


Steven Jesse Bernstein – Face

From the CD “Prison” which this Russian DJ on 4ZZZ repeatedly played. This must have stood out like a sore thumb on the ultra-grunge Sub-Pop label. On the insert is a photo of Steven and William Burroughs, as thou comparing unsightly ties. The  expression “Look there’s Stevie,” as one pointed to the CD, became an in-joke amongst my housemates. A harrowing tale about a disaffected youth, ridiculed for his ugliness, he became a detached loner who never ventured out, eventually needing to be hospitalized, he became a drug addict, alcoholic and criminal… of cause, not one word of it is true! After listening to this long poem one always felt a little lucky to have a head that pointed forward, it could be much worse after all – polio, glasses, braces, pills… a film documentary about his life “I Am Secretly An Important Man” is currently in the making.

Read it here: http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~zealots/sjb/face.html


Antonin Artaud – Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu / To Have Done With The Judgment Of God

The great uncrowned Antonin Artaud was a silent film actor, artist, film writer, theatre director and theorist. A crazed genius of French poetry, he was expelled from the Surrealist movement for being, quite simply, really mad! – he spend years confined in asylums, was almost starved to death by the Nazis and suffered countless electroshock treatments, so violent they fractured the vertebrae in his spine. The original Body Without Organs, he lived in a perpetual state of fulmination, condemnation and mania, finally diagnosed with rectal cancer, he died from an overdose of chloral hydrate still clutching his shoe. His notorious radio broadcast, “Pour en finir avec le jugement de dieu” was banned even by the French, before it’s scheduled broadcast in 1948, the recording was eventually stolen from Radio France during the riots of May ’68. The play is a blasphemous and scatological tirade against America, complete with glossolalia, cacophonous percussion and Artaud’s cater!
wauling, unending scream that turns the insides out.

Read the poem here: http://ndirty.cute.fi/~karttu/tekstit/artaud.htm


Steve Kilbey – Untitled

“Good, now and forever, music reaches and awakens…” from the cassette insert for the Church’s “Starfish” (’88). I printed out these words and glued them to the cover of my uni folder along with the paisley cover image of “HeyDay” as some sort of statement defying the rest, standing apart, and encapsulating something I didn’t want to lose (I wasn’t in the arts faculty like all of you). Childhood memories at dusk, a microscopic sense attractor, disappearing into muffled tongues…

Read the poem here: http://www.quartzcity.net/seance-archives/2001-01/2001-01-0263.txt


Leonard Cohen – This Is The Only Poem

From “The Energy Of Slaves” ’72, in his so-called anti-poem mode, which spawned a sort of poetics of punk (even though he forgets the name). We know Leonard like an ugly uncle, melancholic, full of self-pity, spiritual yearnings, betrayals, anguishes, sexual conquests and maybe even more sexual failures, honesty, lost trust, misgivings and life’s futility. Turning against popular notions of the time, he dismissed the fads to carve out his own course. There is much here to learn, but you don’t want to know too quick, some will turn away in disgust and denial, to only years later confess it’s virtues.

This is the only poem
I can read
I am the only one
can write it
Others seem to think
the past can guide them
My own music
is not merely naked
It is open-legged
It is like a cunt
and like a cunt
must needs be houseproud
I didn’t kill myself
when things went wrong
I didn’t turn
to drugs or teaching
I tried to sleep
but when I couldn’t sleep
I learned to write
I learned to write
what might be read
on nights like this
by one like me


Genesis P-Orridge – A Debris Of Murder

I first heard this on my friend’s Download CD “The Eyes Of Stanley Pain” where it was called “H Sien Influence”, years later I was astonished to find a different version called “A Debris Of Murder” on the Throbbing Gristle bootleg “Assume Power Focus“ (although the vocal recording is identical) this version is the same as on “The Fractured Garden,” but the version on Thee Majesty’s “Wordship” is different again. Did I mention I’m a collector? Gen has such an endearing warm scented voice, that reminds us that life is mere folly and all throw away. Like no other, he approaches childlike onto that horrendous threshold of existentialism, felt when one stares too long at the things of ‘time’ and ‘body’… E’ve seen his boobs too.

Read the poem here: http://www.genesisp-orridge.com/index.php?section=article&id=36


Tristian Tzara – XIII

The bemused Tristian Tzara sits wearing a monocle, beret and carrying a walking stick – it was the 1920s after all. Tristian Tzara was the key linchpin of Dada, the radical and extravagant art movement preceding the so much more lame movement of Surrealism. Dada invented the cut-up, collage, sound poems and madness itself. Delightful and charming, Tristian Tzara lacks arms, strings and a few buttons, but considers himself very likeable.

DADA is a virgin microbe
DADA is against the high cost of living
limited company for the exploitation of ideas
DADA has 391 different attitudes and colours according to the sex of the president
It changes – affirms – says the opposite at the same time – no importance – shouts – goes fishing.
Dada is the chameleon of rapid and self-interested change.
Dada is against the future. Dada is dead. Dada is absurd. Long live Dada. Dada is not a literary school, howl


Blixa Bargeld – Der Mund ist die Wunde des Alphabetes

To most, Blixa Bargeld is known as long time guitarist with Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, but he is also lead singer of the German industrial band Einsturzende Neubauten. There is perhaps no better introduction to their music than Nick Cave’s own discovery, glimpsing them on Dutch TV circa 1982, “For sixty seconds, this man stood as if paralysed, hexed by his own madness. Then he opened his mouth and let out a scream that sounded like somebody was pulling a thistle out of his soul.” The original text is from “Stimme Frisst Feuer,” but the agonised words appear in the song “Blutvergiftung” (Blood Poisoning, 1984). Squealing and caterwauling like a parched and wounded beast, “the words were sung backwards onto a backwards recording tape so they’d be comprehensible when played forward.” 

“Der Mund ist die Wunde des Alphabetes.  Meine Schiere kehren zuruck lecken die Wunde…”

“The mouth is the wound of the alphabet. My screams turn back to lick the wound…”



About Robert:



Robert Lort is a UNregular Brisbane based poet and an original member of the SpeedPoets collective. He has worked across theoretical, fictional and poetic realms inspired by everything from Surrealism to Deleuze & Guattari to avant-garde music and film. Robert Lort maintains the Azimute website http://www.azimute.org and is a regular art critic for various journals.




Wie oft stellst du dir Frage ueber deinen Geisteszustand?

Soft white bones, can they still think?  She unties the ribbons and runs her
plump fingers along the blunt teeth.

According to my calculations… cutlery draws came crashing to the ground
following the 2nd primordial mirror stage
Thereafter, the cluttered ratio of conduits fogged the playing cards of the
pinafored circus lads.
galactic shadows severed the inter-organic mirrors
parching the breath of fairground elephants and
toothless children began playing with scissors
Alice stood there shaking her head,
“who’s counting the dead?”

windup accordion optricians puckered their queasiness
rusty fingers scratched the itchy fur
yesterday’s rainbow fell crumpled around my legs
gentrified delicacies left vanquished, ambushed in misery
walrus feathers neatly brushed into manicured madness
all the slip-static of imvaginated emissions
teem in heat wrinkles of insect grease euphoria
the dead groans of the universe, spat-out on your plate
you crawl back into your skin and set your cloths alight

primal and flickering, depraved once more
sinking between elephant toes, awash with awe
the residual labyrinth creaks in my eyes
discreetly wretching the golden entrails
vanishing obscurity to deprivation tanks
swelling thresholds of vomit puddles stretched over a quivering sky
Have you not been told? LOVE spelt backwards is EVOL!


Filed under Desert(ed) Island Poems

Desert(ed) Island Poems #9 – Rob Morris

Rob Morris is an original Brisbane hipster; his vernacular owning all the rush of the street. Rob has built his raft and is sailing to that mystical island just north of nowhere… and he has packed his poems. Yes indeed, he has packed his poems. Take a look at what will get him through the journey.




FIVE BELLS by Kenneth Slessor

Slessor declared: “I think poetry is written mostly for pleasure, by which I mean the pleasure of pain, horror, anguish and awe as well as the pleasure of beauty, music and the act of living.”

As a war correspondent (see ‘Beach Burial’) and a journalist, this Sydney-dwelling multi-tasker has taken the death of Joe Lynch and elevated it into parable, dreamscape and nautical myth.  ‘Five Bells’ is at once, truly beautiful and mysterious in its use of language, and a piece of art that exists beyond the tawdry strictures of time and location.  It is a masterpiece from a poet who cannot be easily defined or even discussed.  Genius at work!

Read the poem here: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/five-bells/ 




He proved how cruel he could be with “Like a Rolling Stone”.  This is not a cynical blast at Edie Sedgewick; this is a far more profound brush at words directed, I think, at many women he has loved.

The alliteration and imagery generally take the senses into someone elses sad life.  The use of repetition (How could they ever have persuaded you?) is effective to the point where one feels like taking up arms in defence of the song’s much abused subject.  Hymn-like.  Listen in darkness.

Read the poem here: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/b/bob+dylan/sadeyed+lady+of+the+lowlands_20021188.html 



LYSISTRATA by Aristophanes

As new as tomorrow’s bread, I’d take the edition using Norman Lindsay’s illustrations.  If one is stuck on as island, a bit of classical bawdiness and “nod-nod” humour would not go astray.  Sexy and funny enough to keep the mozzies off:

1st market-lounger:  What’s this?
You’re sitting down; Shall I singe you with my torch?
That’s vulgar!  Oh I couldn’t do it … yet
If it would gratify the audience.
I’ll mortify myself.

2nd market-lounger:  And I will too.
We’ll both be crude and vulgar, yes we will.

(Count me in!)

Read more about Lysistrata here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysistrata 



HORSES by Patti Smith

“do you know how to pony
like Boney Maroney?
Do you know how to twist?
Well, it goes like this.
Horses, horses …”

The reincarnation of Whitman, Rimbaud, Parker, and a dozen lesser known “individualists”, Patti Smith means POETRY AS LIFE.

A true shaman, a humble fan of other older Bohemian word dervishes, she demands total involvement.  “Horses” is everything Patti is:  poetic, unpredictable, Rock’n’Roll, brash,  transcendent and irrascible.  Sexy as well.  There’s plenty to choose from in the back catalogue but ‘Horses’ shows Patti Smith as warrior for the brumby word, and artist working sublimely.

Read the lyrics here: http://www.oceanstar.com/patti/lyrics/land.htm 




This is Rimbaud’s ‘Kubla Khan’ but comes from a darker level of the TREE OF LIFE.  “A SEASON IN HELL” is good but I would not want to be stuck with it.

 “I saw the sun with mystic horrors darken
      And shimmer through a violet haze;
      With a shimmer of shutters the waves fell
      Like actors in ancient, forgotten plays!”

Rimbaud is very modern, urbane, and truly disturbing.  His life has almost overshadowed his work but this and a dozen other poems place Rimbaud as a virile, invigorating, descriptive writer.  An electifying poet.

Read the poem here: http://www.mag4.net/Rimbaud/poesies/Boat.html 



MESSALINA by Dulcie Deamer

Once the most widely read English speaking female novelist, DD is funny, self deprecating and so very, very “different”.  She wrote:

“I am as naked as life’s naked flame!
No-one ever spoke of law or coward shame
In that spring-fevered world from which I came
I fear no death.  Let swift sleep end the game.”

With a Dorothy Parker-ish wit and a romantic streak as wide as Darlinghurst Road, she personifies the Bohemian poet of the twenties.  She was even crowned Queen of Bohemia at the 1924 Artists’ Ball.  A bit of a “square” in some ways, DD believed in “the triumph of the soul over the body”.  In her Arcadia she served Diana.  She deserves a more devoted legacy for she wrote finely.  As she said:

“So I stand – the hopeless goal
of the finite worlds desire.”

She aimed high!




Tasmanian poet Karen Knight wrote a collection of poems about America’s 19th century “enfant terrible” Walt Whitman (“Under the One Granite Roof”), and it is not difficult to comprehend why he remains such a charismatic poet.

“Laws of thyself complete, thine own track
firmly holding.”

Whitman makes you believe in a greater force, as alive in his poetic sculpting of engines and enormous America in a growth spurt as Otis in the compassion and empathy he showed in his life.  The Civil War made him a poet; “Leaves” spread his name around and got the folks arguing about his ‘poetry’.  Whitman doesn’t even sound like anyone else – then or now, despite copyists – and of course, it’s hard to think of Ginsberg or Pinske etc. without regarding the singular form and generosity of his style.

Read the poem here: http://www.daypoems.net/poems/2131.html 


MY HEART LEAPS UP by Wordsworth

With that line: “The Child is father to the Man” (Note the capitals) and concluding with the statement that we are “Bound each to each by natural piety”, this brief paen to the redemptive power of ‘spirit’ and life’s natural course makes my heart leap up (not everywhere).  Timeless and and wise.

Read the poem here: http://www.umiacs.umd.edu/~ridge/local/mhlu.html 




“We worked in a spirit of community and collaboration that seemed to spring from the text,” spoke Jones.  The text she was referring to is Lee Gantelon’s book “The Words”, a modern rendering of the words of Christ.

“It hurts to be here
It hurts to be here
It hurts to be here”

she repeats, and you wonder if this existential cry is at once a personal statement or only an interpretation of Jesus’ anguish at what he knows is coming.  She repeats words like a ‘shaker’ who doesn’t quite trust her instincts.  ‘The Sermon’ mixes words, prayerful exhortations.  Hers is a voice that has withstood all the secular pains.

“They think God hears them louder
if they say it over and over.”

She repeats too!  She’s looking for God, and meaning, and redemption, and answers.

“I wonder why there is so much suffering.”

Me too, me too!

Read the lyrics here: http://www.rickieleejones.com/expolyrics.htm 




“I was much too far out all my life
and not waving but drowning.”

Stevie Smith is supposed to have loved the act of reading poetry to an audience.  She was feisty, opinionated and a bit of a handful.  Now, Stevie wasn’t interested in Jesus, and she was quite a changling, a “free spirit” of the sixties.  Her live readings MADE her!  In another poem called “Poor Soul, Poor Girl” she wrote:

“I cannot imagine anything nicer
than to be struck by lightning and killed
suddenly crossing a
As if somebody cared:
Nobody cares whether I am alive or dead”.

There is great sadness just beneath the words.  The pitiful irony that dresses itself in these poems of hers suggest a “greatness”.  Some people call it “doggerel”. I call it writing courageously, saying what one thinks.  “Drowning” is funny in a Pythonesque way and I could use that humour (more sophisticated and multi-dimensioned than it may immediately appear to be) on my island.  Stevie Smith is original.  One of her is enough and a great gift.

Read the poem here: http://www.artofeurope.com/smith/smi1.htm



And here’s a poem from Rob’s latest collection ‘So Much Weather’


The Paradox

“The most beautiful and most profound experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the source of all true science.” – Albert Einstein

Is it natural that they depart beautiful
from the brutal drag that is time’s Glasgow kiss
escape with an enigmatic bow
as some velvet curtain falls?
It is the Keatsian paradox,
the body slumps,
the swag comes undone
yet modest and oblivious
mind still struts and rocks on
though we dally wistful practice our worshipful prayers.
Time is a tough nut to crack.
It offers only memory’s consoling embrace on the stair.
Gleaners, we have to work at this stuff
or let our young shining ones go.
In the house of the artist
there are shape shifters
trying on old and new costumery
hopeful the wardrobe still fits
’til time gets impatient
with our lingering party and the darkening room taxes
our vision. We will dress ourselves upon light,
ask if we may
leave to
return tomorrow
and early.


Filed under Desert(ed) Island Poems