Poetry and the Contemporary Symposium
Victorian Trades Hall
(symposium URL front page artwork: She Prefers Fires, 2008, ink and cotton on fine art paper, Tamryn Bennett)
Full program, abstracts, etc. can be found here.
today / the postman / tomorrow the world
In Conspiracy CityI barely blink when the
or when I see
a line of
Black Hawk helicopters
but the midnight
entrances & exits
of transport planes
the brown convoy
in this direction
when the pre-
is only a
of what it’s
like to live
I will participate in a very small measure. One of the events will undoubtedly be a concert which I will probably go to. A military band will fly in for a couple of days, do its routine of Sousa marches, & then finish with a round or two of "white boys do black music" to show the locals just how hip the military is. Great musicians usually, shithouse singer always.Exercise Talisman Sabre—Saber on the U.S. Defense websites—2011 (TS11) involves 30,000 Defence personnel and will be conducted in July 2011. The Exercise will take place at a range of Defence training areas predominantly in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Based on fictional scenarios, the Exercise includes combined Special Forces operations, parachute drops, amphibious (marine) landings, land force manoeuvres, urban and air operations and the coordinated firing of live ammunition from the range of in-service weapons systems used by exercise participants. The fictional scenarios are designed to bring the different branches of the Australian and US military together in a combined environment.
Conducting the Exercise ensures ADF personnel are better prepared for deployment into areas of active conflict world wide through added experience and confidence.
Beneath the relentless surf ghetto aura that pervades these Drainpipe Sessions there is a place where nothing is revealed, acknowledged by the grace of having been there at all. It’s the catch & release method of poetic composition, the B-side of a once and future flashback, stubbornly adhering to a lyric drive where the measure is meant to be taken in a single breath. “If poetry is the Atlantis of the arts,” writes Noel Black, “then Kevin Opstedal can breathe under water, and each poem is a pair of shades for a beach blanket apocalypse.”
High Country Weather
Alone we are born
And die alone
Yet see the red-gold cirrus
Over snow-mountain shine.
Upon the upland road
Ride easy, stranger
Surrender to the sky
Your heart of anger.
from: Night Through the Orange Window
I remember her as a fifth season
who came unheralded
into those lean months
shaming the precise blue evenings
with the proud eternity of her flesh
For Dave Mitchell
"th prfct wrdslngr"
Seeing your poems, your picture on the
blue middle pages of the NEW ARGOT
I wish I could be with you once more in
"th cafe lebanon". It is summer, & the
spare tables will have been unstacked
& set outside; & we could sit there
in our perfect white tropical suits,
sipping pernod, smoking panatellas
waiting for something GREAT to happen.
I have just been invited to contribute to the obituary of someone who isn't dead yet.
He pauses, remembering having read somewhere that using "actually" as a prefix to a declaration often indicates a lie will follow.
He pauses, wondering if what he is about to say is truth or fiction. Not so much one or the other, perhaps a mix, perhaps a selective reading of the past.
He restarts. Actually, ambivalence is not what is disturbing him; it is just a cloak, thrown rapidly over the budding, the bubbling up of something that he would prefer to remain hidden, not to be thought about. Saying he is ambivalent gives him time to take the deep breaths necessary before starting the sifting process, the archaeological dig.
The obituary part of it does not disturb him, for the significant reality is that this writer has been dead to him for a long time, killed by separation, the act of not-seeing. What contact there has been in nearly forty years has been the gathering of memento mori—that first book of poems, signed, numbered, bought four or so years ago in a secondhand store in Auckland, thirty years after its publication—or the literary equivalent of laying flowers on a grave, writing a poem dedicated to & named for the writer.
& not just dead to him, but to many others. A decades-long wake, not talking of the dead but asking after him. "Have you heard anything of.....?" Now, it appears, it is time to exhume the corpse, even though it is not yet a corpse, since by the time the autopsy is performed & the obituary is written it may well be so.
He recalls that at times in the past, if a high-born lady fell ill, diagnosis would be carried out on a handmaiden or a servant for it was considered improper for the lady to be inspected deshabillé. Here, too, the first stroke of the knife will fall elsewhere; before writing the obituary of the other, he has to begin by writing his own.
The poet, in his early twenties, in the mid-sixties, makes the pilgrimage to Europe, travelling by sea. In England, he meets a folksinger of a similar age from Minnesota called Bob Dylan. He goes to Spain, & the scent of the orange groves permeates his notebooks for years to come. He meets & marries a beautiful blonde Swedish model who returns to New Zealand with him.
They live with the poet's mother & brother in Aro St., Wellington. They have a daughter. (This the narrator knows not through memory but because he met her forty years later.) The beautiful blonde Swede does not like New Zealand. The country is beautiful but the people are nekulturny, barbaric. (This the narrator does not know for certain; it is an assumption he makes based on the fact that the poet starts drinking again. Though maybe it's the whole gestalt, living with mother, having a child, having a wife who doesn't like the place & who reminds the poet that he, too, doesn't really like living there.)
Five characters then. More precisely, four characters & a narrator. (Though not this narrator; he is merely the recipient of an oral history which he has chosen to pass on.) Even more precisely, four characters & a raconteur who will tell the story later, who is the one from whom the narrator heard it.
It is too distant to be precise in the living arrangements. Logic—no, not logic, rather the kernel of the story—dictates that there are three bedrooms in the house. The brother has one, the poet & his wife another, & the poet's mother shares the other with her granddaughter. It may be that the poet's mother is visiting; & the baby normally has a room to herself.
Except on this night the baby gets sick & the poet's wife moves into the baby's room to be with her, & the poet's mother moves into the master bedroom. The poet knows nothing of this; he is out drinking, has to be a party since at the time this took place, bars in New Zealand closed their doors at 6 p.m.
The poet returns home round midnight, drunk. Staggers into the bedroom, takes his clothes off in the dark & jumps onto the shape in the bed shouting "I'm going to fuck you." His mother screams, jumps out of the bed & runs from the room.
(The narrator is aware that it is probably in poor taste to retell this story; but he excuses himself on the grounds that if he is to partake in the obituary writing, to perform part of the autopsy, then it makes sense to begin the cutting at a soft point in what will inevitably be a painful history.)
"...In the Barry Lett Art Gallerybut they were never friends though something / more than acquaintances. They had gone to the same secondary school; for four years they shared the same turf; but the poet was a year ahead of the narrator, & in the hierarchy of schools, that meant their paths never crossed. The narrator was something of a jock—rugby, cricket, basketball—who later played in the school orchestra, had one of the leads in a rare school play, a Shakespeare suite directed by Richard Campion, the father of filmmaker Jane, who was teaching there at the time. He never came across the poet in any of these activities.
I heard Mark Young and David Mitchell lay down their lines."
Bob Orr: Jerusalem
"My memories of Mark in Auckland are of poetry readings at Barry Lett Galleries and at the Wynyard Tavern. Dave Mitchell was part of a double act that combined the rhapsodic, the laconic and the hip. Wreathed in clouds of cigarette smoke, through which I still see art works by Ralph Hotere and Colin McCahon, as though smoky nicotine were one of the cultural pigmentations of the ’60s; with lots of flagon red wine from the Henderson valley, drugs that were subculture rather than mainstream entertainment, and the jazz of Thelonious Monk (‘Round Midnight’), these occasions set my youthful benchmarks and probably gave me much of the life I’ve had. For which I am most grateful. "
Ian Wedde: Antipodean Hipster (A review of The right foot of the giant)
Known as the Big Man for his imposing 196-metre frame, Clemons and his ever-present saxophone spent much of his life with The Boss.
Jane Joritz-Nakagawa’s notational furthers an Identity Positioning System that resembles in elegance and efficacy the memory theaters of the ancients. Each page finds the margin where transition is meaning and each sensational flutter awaits its name. Intensity is all: “Power lines on the range.” She never lets the words down, nor fails to put them accurately where most needed. — Bill Berkson
In her sixth book of poems, Jane Joritz-Nakagawa breaks fresh ground, finding new ways to see and restructure her world. In fragments of observations teetering precariously and falling into the unexpected, Jane sees into the backside of social and cultural relations, while at the same time undermining them. This is the “border between identity and non-identity”. Here, we wake up “in an unfamiliar language”, and find that it is our own. — Eric Selland
Jane Joritz-Nakagawa’s notational puts consciousness through an egg slicer and allows the slices to slip away and initiate poetic investigations within the environments that have come to define the fractured backdrop of the everyday: empty buses, the repletions of consumer overload, bamboo groves, eyes that gaze at each other (untranslatable), the horrible vivisection of animals, selves that melt and bend through a social stage in which the locus of identity is always the center of multiple controls. This poetry is timely, intelligent and beautiful — and though the investigations involved often move through deeply unsettling territory, the ingenuity of the poetry itself displays the imaginative promesse de bonheur that keeps the loophole opened: “grim tasks of survival do not bring happiness / yet the wind”. — Trane DeVore
Volvo is evolving its pedestrian detection & avoidance system — which uses radar & an infra-red camera to determine if the car is likely to hit a pedestrian — to recognize wild animals. It will be available in Australia within three years.
Trouble is, it's designed to recognize moose & suchlike, not the large fauna that you find on Australian roads, which, because of its unusual shape, is almost impossible to program for. Sure, occasionally cows & horses are hit or missed, but many large animal accidents here involve indigenous species such as kangaroos & emus. Plus, the system is designed for static or slow-moving animals, & kangaroos emulate smart bombs; large bounds, fast trajectory.
Maybe Volvo could market the system here without modification but with a different slant, possibly describing it as an early apocalypse warning system. If the car tells you there's a moose looming up on the road ahead, then get the hell out of there. An Ice Age is coming! The apocalypse is not far behind!
sowouldn't fuckwitless be a better descriptor?
"Witness the push-back by defenders of Sarah Palin, a could-be presidential candidate who wrongly characterized Paul Revere’s Revolutionary War-era ride. Palin, on a family vacation-cum-"SarahPac" promotional tour, told reporters Revere was warning the British that the colonists would not give up their guns. She said Revere rang bells and shot his gun as a warning. Historians disagree (Revere was actually warning his comrades, not the enemy British soldiers), but Palin fans rushed to edit the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to rewrite history, seeking to turn Palin’s misstatement into historical fact. (Wikipedia has since locked the page on Revere while things calm down.)" Susan MilliganThen I discovered a photo of the bus Sarah Palin was using for her current tour, with One Nation emblazoned on its side.....
"Believing the other parties to be out of touch with mainstream Australia, One Nation ran on a broadly populist and protectionist platform. It promised to drastically reduce immigration and to abolish 'divisive and discriminatory policies ... attached to Aboriginal and multicultural affairs.' Condemning multiculturalism as a 'threat to the very basis of the Australian culture, identity and shared values,' One Nation rallied against government immigration and multicultural policies which, it argued, were leading to 'the Asianisation of Australia.'"Its public face was Pauline Hanson, & its appeal was based on the racist, redneck, rightwing extremism that exists in parts of this country, though usually a bit more beneath the surface. & part of the reason for the party's decrease in popularity is because the conservative parties have moved even further to the right, in order to absorb most of the constituency that was once One Nation. Another reason is that it appears a major driving force in starting up the party was to take personal advantage of public funding.
"Since the 1998 peak, One Nation has been plagued by internal divisions and has split several times. Lawsuits from ex-members forced Hanson to repay approximately A$500,000 of public funding won at the 1998 Queensland election amid claims that the party was fraudulently registered. The suits alleged that the party was undemocratically constituted in order to concentrate all power in the hands of three rulers—Pauline Hanson, David Ettridge and David Oldfield (in particular Oldfield)—and that it technically had only two members: Ettridge and Hanson."Pauline Hanson stood as an independent in the recent New South Wales election, failed to gain a seat, & is now claiming fraud by the Electoral Office. It might be different State to & a decade on from her political debut, but her opinions don't seem to have changed.
"If Muslim people are not willing to assimilate into a democratic Australian society, 'don't come here at all,' says former One Nation politician Pauline Hanson."
The colossal institution
that is the tellurian eco-
nomy comes across as
a disfunctional asset with
ability, but is still able to
deliver the latest DVDs.