Saturday, November 27, 2010


Photographs by Christina

Some things defy understanding, some things the mind just cannot grasp because they go beyond our limits of experience, empathy, logic and reason. Grappling with such difficult things the mind just shuts down, thoughts become repetitive, circular and even pointless. J.N has taken his own life. There is no understanding it. No way of making sense of what happened.

He was brilliant, a musician and talented artist; a loved friend, brother, uncle and son. He studied visual art with my twin and we would go and drink coffee at his house that backed onto the university and he would be using the last clean coffee cup as an ashtray, so he would make you a coffee in a bowl or a jar, whatever could be found. Later he moved in with my sister in a little old Queenslander in Camp Hill, they lived in student poverty together, taught each other, shared, learnt together, loved each other. In all the years since, they always remained strong friends.

Not so long ago we all met for coffee together, he was my friend through her. We were in West End and sharing recent stories and adventures. J.N now missing a tooth but smiling broadly. He was at times erratic and frenetic, unpredictable, unfathomable, but always charismatic and engaging. He could draw elegantly and evocatively and also with the grit and sensuous line of Egon Schiele. He was the genius that we all thought would "make it", seriously, no one I know has ever come near the talent he had. He was the one that you thought people would be writing biographies on one day, and you'd be answering interviewers saying "Yes, I knew him through my sister" and "I thought he was brilliant". I remember the view from his rental in West End... all these memories keep coming back.

This is the email he sent me a few months ago:

Czech out Lydia Davis- good short stories. Nice translator. All round good read.
P.S- If you are still researching early bohemian Australian writers, I was befriended by Shelton Lea, who I never realised was a thing until the ABC interviewed him and the gaff-boys hung out and bought illicits off him during one of my archive sessions at his bookstore.
Shortly after, he died. I got sad, but anyway.
Congrats on the academic success- use it well. Be good

Well I bought and read a book of Lydia Davis' short stories and never had a chance to discuss them with him. And I knew that J.N had a history of mental illness and I would never have pegged him as a living to 89 in a nursing home kind of guy, but I never thought, and still can't believe, that this wonderful, talented, twenty-eight year old took his own life.

There was a 4ZZZ (radio station) tribute to J.N, start at 4mins 44secs - they played some of his songs.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Poetry @ Confit Bistro

Last night I went to Poetry @ Confit Bistro, a delightful little mediterranean/European restaurant in the Valley, where I enjoyed poetry with tappas and wine. Trudie Murrell was the first reader, Sheish Money played guitar, Graham Nunn read, as did Rob Morris, and then the highlight of the night was when the three boys all performed together. It was marvelous; Confit has a wonderful atmosphere, there was great food and lively conversation between readings. I caught up with a long lost friend, who though I haven't seen her for some 12 (!) years, it was like we had only spoken last month.

I also met new and interesting people and enjoyed the change of reading poetry by myself all day to seeing and hearing it performed live. It reminded me about something I read some time ago that Gary Snyder said when interviewed after Ginsberg died. He was asked what Ginsberg had taught him, and he said that Ginsberg had taught him the importance of poetry being read aloud, that it was meant to performed. Not much compares to hearing a poet read their own work.

Last night was the last poetry reading at Confit for the year, but it will start again in the New Year, so I will let you know when it begins again. It certainly is a great way to spend a Thursday night.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A Short History...

I finished reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything and I really enjoyed it. I learnt new and wondrous things about the solar system, the search for the age and weight of the earth, how the elements were discovered, atoms, the use and abuse of lead, the current thinking about the big bang theory, volcanoes, clouds, evolution, cells, genes, DNA and the list goes on and on. 574 exceedingly readable pages about the history life, the universe and everything.

Bryson traveled extensively, read widely and in-depthly, and met key figures in many different fields to compile this eclectic, scientific tome. He writes with such wit and awe about these many topics and provides amusing side stories or back histories that textbooks wouldn't dream of including. As you may well guess, this isn't a text book, it is a layperson's guide to understanding a little bit more the universe around them and how we got here. Bryson is the first to offer some idea of what we (collectively) also don't know, which is refreshing. You get the sense that we hairless apes have come a long way in our understanding, and still have a long way to go; but in the overall history of the world we have been here only seconds.

Here is one of my favorite informative passages, with a wonderful quirky aside, the kind that it prevalent in the book. This is about DNA...

"... researchers performed some rather bizarre experiements that produced curiously unbizarre outcomes. In one, they took the gene that controlled the development of a mouse's eye and inserted it into the larva of a fruit fly. The thought was that it would produce something interestingly grotesque. In fact, the mouse-eye gene not only made a viable eye in the fruit fly, it made a fly's eye. Here were two creatures that hadn't shared a common ancestor for 500 million years, yet could swap genetic material as if they were sisters.

The story is the same whereever researches looked. They found that they could insert human DNA into certain cells of flies and the flies would accept it as if it were their own. Over 60 per cent of human genes, it turns out, are fundamentally the same as those found in fruit flies. At least 90 per cent correlate at some level with those found in mice. (We even have the same gene for making a tail, if only they would switch on.)"

I wonder who is working on switching on that gene? A tail would come in very handy at times. Suffice to say, if you are like me and interested in science, but it is not your field, this is a handy introduction aimed at the interested and confused. But beware, you may never look at the stars or even dust in the same way again! Bill Bryson, he is charming, witty and amusing and so easy to love; I am sure that is why more people don't like him.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Literary Vendors...

BellemeadeBooks visited the Maisonneuve website and made a quirky poetry find that I wanted to share because I liked it so much. Poetry vending machines! Read all about it here!

It reminded me of the book vending machines that I saw in Paris a few years ago - do they still have those? They were so much fun, with everything from classics to crosswords!

PS. Happy Birthday to my twin sister and me!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Instant-tea and the white abyss...

Robert Adamson

In line with my advice from my supervisors, I have been reading poetry daily. I have now read through six books of Robert Adamson's poetry: Canticles on the skin (1970), The Rumour (1971), Swamp Riddles (1974), Zimmer's Essay (1974) coauthored by Bruce Hanford, Selected Poems (1977) and Where I come from (1979). Adamson is a well established Australian literary figure and is probably most known for his poems that deal with his incarceration, his drug use as well as his friendship with the poet Michael Dransfield and being the editor of the New Poetry magazine.

As you can see, I have just started reading his back catalogue, and while my reading of his work has not been exhaustive, I have enjoyed the different approaches he takes to each book of poetry. In his early work he names his influences and pays homage to them, in stark contrast to the more personal, autobiographical poems in Where I come from. His list of influences are wonderful, from Rimbaud to Bob Dylan, Shelley to the Black Mountain Poets. Canticles was his first book of poems and I loved the poem "Your magazine husband"; here is part three:

I hardly see you these days
& when I do you have that

'ah, Rimbaud - you'll grow out of
him' look in your eyes.

Because I prefer silence, spooks
of fallen-heroes drift away

in sunlight, even Rimbaud disperses
like curls of hashish

on a draught - I have no sense
of seasons anymore, only

crumpled balls of typing paper
clenched in my fists:

I miss your cups of instant-tea.

Robert Adamson

How evocative and wonderful is that last line especially? "I miss your cups of instant-tea", so beautifully mundane. I also read today an interview between John Tranter and Robert Adamson from the late 1970s, published in Martin Duwell's A Possible Contemporary Poetry. Right at the end of the interview, Tranter is questioning Adamson about his approach to writing and Adamson says, "You know, writing has never been a great life for me, it's been a terrible task. I've had to use the small amount of self-discipline and everything in my power to say 'Look, sit down and write!'" Tranter responds saying, "I think most writers have felt that about poetry, and yet they keep on doing it." To which Adamson wonderfully ends the interview by saying: "Yeah... there's no such thing as a virgin white pages for me... it's a white abyss."

Free community Woolf lectures...

“…on or about December 1910 human character changed.” – Virginia Woolf
The School of English, Media Studies and Art History
is pleased to invite you to a UQ Centenary Ev

This event celebrates 100 years of the Humanities at UQ by exploring Woolf’s intriguing pronouncement.

What does her work tell us about what it means to be human? How does the study of the Humanities help us to investigate our own humanity? Please join UQ and international and national experts in exploring these questions.

Date: December 10-11, 2010
Venue: The University of Queensland Club,
Staff House Rd, UQ St Lucia.
Cost: Free
Please RSVP for Catering Purposes to by Monday 6 December

Schedule of Events

Friday, 10 December
Eleanor Room, University of Queensland Club

4:00-5:30pm – Keynote Address:
“Mrs Brown’s Body: Virginia Woolf and Human Change”
Prof. Melba Cuddy-Keane (University of Toronto)

5:30-6:30pm - Opening reception

7:00-8:30pm - Staged reading of Virginia Woolf’s The Waves
Adapted by Dr Tony Thwaites and performed by UQ drama alumni and current staff

Saturday, 11 December
Kathleen Room, University of Queensland Club

11:00am-12pm – Keynote Address:
“Creaturely Things”
Prof. Gillian Whitlock (UQ)

12:00-1:00pm – Keynote Address:
“Virginia Woolf’s Ordinary Humans”
Dr Lorraine Sim (University of Ballarat)

1:00-2:00pm – Lunch (provided)

2:00-3:00pm – Roundtable discussion on Australian Modernisms
Prof. Carole Ferrier (UQ), Prof. Veronica Kelly (UQ),
A/Prof Rex Butler (UQ) and Prof. David Carter (UQ)

3:00-4:00pm – Plenary discussion of what the future holds for
the next 100 years in the Humanities at UQ

UQ Art Museum
4:30-5:30pm – Floor talk: “Multiplicities:
Self-Portraits from the Collection”

5:30-7:00pm – Closing reception (UQ Art Museum)

Virginia Woolf and the Nature of the Human is proudly presented by the School of English, Media Studies and Art History, in conjunction with the UQ Centenary, the Cultural History project in the Faculty of Arts, and is kindly supported by the Brisbane Writers Festival, and Avid Reader Bookstore.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ginsberg Action Figure...

I received an early Birthday present today - thanks Dylan! - something I have been wanting since I saw it posted about on The Allen Ginsberg Project last year. The Allen Ginsberg Press Pop toy figurine. Yes it is a little bit tacky and very kitsch, but what is not to love? The Ginsberg action figure (it's arms move) comes with a CD of Ginsberg live at the Knitting Factory in 1995, a little papercraft hat and poetry book covers. He is wearing his iconic glasses, fabric shirt, tie and jacket, as well as some real beads. What a wonderful pop culture homage to a modern literary master. I love it!

Ginsberg is a poet that I have loved and admired for many years. Last year I was able to turn this interest and passion into a Master's thesis. I researched Ginsberg and the Beats; in the process travelling to America, going to San Fransisco, Palo Alto and New York. Being a tourist and an amateur researcher in Public and University libraries. I spent a week reading through Ginsberg's archives at Stanford, I went to the infamous City Lights bookstore, the Beat Museum and visited many sites of interest. I met Peter Hale from the Allen Ginsberg Project in Ginsberg's last apartment. I met author Jonah Raskin for breakfast in San Fran. I posted home boxes and boxes of books, DVDs, CDs and a signed (by Ginsberg) Holy Soul, Jelly Roll boxed set.

From America I went to the UK, and while I was there I went to two William S. Burroughs' exhibitions in London, and took a train out to Birmingham University to see Kerouac's On the Road scroll which was at the time on a world wide tour. I read everything I could find about Ginsberg, Kerouac, Burroughs, Snyder, Corso, Hunke, Carr, Cassady, Ferlinghetti and more. I poured over books of poetry, journals, letters, biographies and autobiographies. I read about other poetry movements and related American writers. I read Whitman, William Carlos Williams and Ginsberg's other influences, like Pound, Crane and Blake (and more). And then I wrote, and wrote and drafted and edited and rewrote and pulled it all together into a thesis. I received first class honors for the thesis and subsequently I was accepted at the University of Queensland to do my PhD on Australian poetry of the 1960s and 70s. Lucky me!

Suffice to say, doing a thesis on Ginsberg was an incredible journey and it was an amazing year spent reading and writing while teaching art full-time in a High School in regional Queensland. As a side affect of the thesis, I have perhaps one of the best Beat libraries privately owned in the Southern hemisphere, as well as an ongoing passion for all things Beat and Ginsberg related. I am also lucky enough to have a partner who has endured all things Beat and poetry, study and work for the last few years and encourages me (still!) by buying me a Ginsberg toy for my Birthday on Tuesday! What a great present, don't you think?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Grey's Philosophy...

Yesterday for UNESCO World Philosophy Day I went along to a lecture at the University of Queensland, given by the philosopher William Grey, entitled "What does it mean to be a Philosopher?" I enjoyed the lecture and I wanted to share it with you.

Grey started off with an overview of the history of philosophy and name checked the philosophers from the Ionian Enlightenment: Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Herclitus and Anazagoras, with some information on each. As well as the Eleatic Metaphysics: Parmenides and Zeno and the Golden Age of Classical Antiquity; the philosophers most would be aware of: Scorates, Plato and Aristotle and so on through the Renaissance and nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

He also spoke about "why philosophy" and gave a wonderful list of whys, I only manged to write down a couple. But he argued that even if our needs were all met (for everyone, everywhere) we would still need to examine what sort of society we wanted and what sort of lives we wanted to live. Philosophy frees the mind from prejudice and promotes skepticism about dogmatism. He provided wonderful quotes by various philosophers including; "Philosophy is an activity that uses reasoning and rigorous argument to promote human flourishing." - Epicurus.

Grey went on to talk about the idea that one of the roles of philosophy is to address foundational value assumptions and that we need to do this with the environment. We are living unsustainably and he argued that the future isn't a predetermined destination to which we travel, the future is creation, not discovery. In other words, we can still make a difference. He spoke about ethical eating, population levels, the use of fossil fuels and reevaluating the social models we live within. He used this wonderful quote about climate change from a scientist, "The climate is an angry beast and we are poking it with sticks."

But Grey also talked about existence. Why do human exist is a fundamental question in philosophy; Grey says, they exist for the same reason as whales and lions. Does life have meaning? Another key question, Grey says, life is devoid of meaning, except that which we make ourselves. So life has no meaning? Yes, life has not meaning, but it does not mean an individual life has no meaning. Sounds pessimistic? Well, we live in an age of epistemological privilege. We ought not be pessimistic or optimistic, Grey says, rather we should be utilise rational skepticism.

One of the aims of the UNESCO Wold Philosophy Day is to inspire public discussion, I believe that William Grey's lecture certainly did that. The question time at the end was lively and continued outside with wine and cheese. What I got from the day was a feeling that we all need to live a little more philosophically, in this capitalist consumerist society in which we dwell, and reconsider the very things we hold as "normal" that are in fact very detrimental to ourselves, our environment, and our world.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thesis Update...

I went and saw my supervisors yesterday and they were both happy that I had a full draft of the Prospectus complete - that I can now ignore until next year - and wished me to get into reading more poetry now that the Prospectus is out of the way for the time being. They said, spend your days reading poetry and your nights reading theory, what a prescription! Some times I have to pinch myself that this is my "full-time job" at the moment! I feel pretty lucky, although I know others would hate to be back studying full-time and tell me that regularly, but I love it!

I have been reading poetry today and writing more, up to 4 100 words, but the word count probably won't move for a while now that I have orders to read poetry. I photographed the poor old books of poetry (above) and they look pretty sad, but I like to think they are just well loved and well traveled!

PS. Tomorrow (18th Nov) is the UNESCO World Philosophy Day, there are activities planned around the world. Even if you can't get to one, sounds like a nice excuse for a nice wine or coffee and some reflection with a friend or a loved one. The lecture I am attending asks "What does it mean to be a Philosopher?"; this could be a good starting question for a philosophical coffee date!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Singing In The Rain...

Oh, our engagement photographs are on the photographers blog! The wonderful Lizzy C took our photographs last month as a sort of pre-wedding-getting-to-know-you shoot. There are some wonderful and embarrassing photographs of us (who actually likes to see photos of themselves?), but I think they are great! Especially considering the conditions - it was pouring through the shoot - if you look carefully you may just see our wet hair matted to our faces! Lizzy was bold and brave and photographed from beneath an umbrella that her beautiful husband was holding aloft for her and only managing to get her wet occasionally. It was a lot of fun, thanks Liz and Dave for a great afternoon and some wonderful photographs!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Word Count...

Although not including my Prospectus, which is already 5 500 words, I have written the first 3 000 words of my thesis! I have begun chapters one and two, writing about Pascale Casanova and her theory in The World Republic of Letters and defining terms and key concepts like "world-systems theory" and explaining how Marx fits into it. First 3 000 down, does this mean I get wine now? Only 57 000 more to go!

Also reading (and still enjoying) Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Movie About a Poem...

Yes, we went and saw Howl last night at Palace Centro in the Valley for the Brisbane International Film Festival. It was a film about a poem, one of the most famous poems of last century by one of its greatest poets, Allen Ginsberg.

There are many, many reviews of this film: IMDB, Film Journal International, Current Movie Reviews, The Guardian, Film School Rejects, Rotten Tomatoes, Tiny Mixed Tapes, and to name just a few of the hundreds out there. I have also read a lot of the reviews posted The Allen Ginsberg Project blog.

What I take away from reading the reviews and seeing the film is how much people love Ginsberg and his poem and how much they didn't enjoy the animation within the film. The split narrative device utilised within the film enabled a whole reading of all parts of the poem, while cutting to a Ginsberg interview years later, as well as the obscenity trial that took place. We see the poem being read at the Five Spot Cafe and we see an animated version of much of the poem also.

Some reviewers loved the animation, but most didn't. There were other complaints about not seeing enough of other Beat writers etc. but I didn't feel that that was a problem given the narrow scope of the film. It wasn't clear that Ginsberg was actually in Paris when the trial was on and it wasn't clear when the tape recorded interview was taking place, but if you want to go and see a great documentary on Ginsberg then get hold of a copy of The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg. It is fantastic and covers his life and career in detail.

It is great that a film has been made like this, a film about a poem and a great poet. A film that introduces the Beat Generation to other generation (especially outside of America) and that speaks of the power of art, imagination and performance. It is a film certainly worth seeing, wonderfully filmed, entertaining and thought provoking and who knows, you might even love the animated sequences!

Friday, November 12, 2010

New Books for a New Adventure...

In light of our planned adventure to the Middle East, I have been collecting some related reading materials! The wonderful Gustave Flaubert's Egyptian travel writing collected in Flaubert In Egypt: A Sensibility on Tour, the essential travel guide for the Middle East, the father of history - Herodotous - and his The Histories and finally Ryszard Kapuscinski's Travels with Herodotus, a book of travel writing informed by dear old Herodotus. A little, but I think wonderful, collection thus far.

I need to get a copy of One Thousand and One Nights to add to the pre-travel reading collection - any other suggestions? We are going to Turkey, Egypt, Syria and Jordan and I have a year to read up!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Of Love and War...

Last night I went to a "Deepening the Conversation" presentation at the Queensland State Library. The Changing Face of Wartime Correspondence was organised as part of the program supporting the Of Love and War exhibition that is currently on. The conversation included a panel of ex-military personnel and military partners who spoke about their relationships, modes of communication, the effects changes in communication technology have had on correspondence and the archiving of memories.

I loved Jim Morris' tale of how he met his wife. He was already in Vietnam when a friend asked a friend if she knew anyone who would write to Jim while he was away. Jim started a pen pal relationship with a woman named Colene and as the letters came and went he few in love with her. He proposed before he even met her and they were married four weeks after he returned to Australia. Link to Jim's story - scroll down for short film.

There was also a wonderful "old timer", George Buckingham, who at eighty-eight had a lifetime of stories to tell, including how he was kicked out of the Australian Army for signing up underage and how he subsequently ended up in the Navy and in Z force, special ops. George told wonderful stories that contrasted the tales of the partner of a currently serving pilot, an army nurse who was deployed to the Gulf War and East Timor twice and Jim who was in Vietnam in 1968.

The idea of how to retain contemporary wartime correspondence was an issue that has practical application across a range of disciplines. We have a draw full of postcards from relatives in World War One and Two and my own Father burnt all his letters from Vietnam. I also kept thinking about writers archives; it was a real joy to read through Ginsberg's letters and journals when I was at Stanford and I wonder what the archives of writers now will look like in years to come. I remember reading how long it took to hack into Douglas Adams' computer after he died suddenly. I have also seen this topic coming up on some blog lately: about printing and archiving emails, making print versions of blogs and utilising archive quality DVDs to store data etc.

It was an interesting and thought provoking evening, timely also in light of Remembrance Day.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

An American Kafka in France...

I have finished reading The Enormous Room by e.e cummings, my copy used to belong to a Martin Reynolds who wrote inside the front cover "Aug 1971. I think I shall have to read more of ee cummings, having enjoyed this book more than somewhat. Partly, because first books have a certain raw charm."

I agree with Mr Reynolds assessment, I enjoyed the book more than somewhat also and would like to read more of cummings' work - he is better known for his poetry - and The Enormous Room did have a certain raw charm. Why? Well it begins with a quirky little interview with the author and then a moving foreword in the form of letters from e.e cummings' father to President Woodrow Wilson and a "My Dear Mr - ". The letters, dated December 1917 and February 1918, explain that his son and his friend had been arrested and are now being held in France without charges being laid. The two lads, Edward Estlin Cummings and William Slater Brown, were American ambulance drivers during World War One; it was due to some of Brown's intercepted letters back home that had the pair arrested. The true nature of this is never made very clear and the whole arrest, removal to the detention camp and admission therein is very Kafkaesque.

Before the war cummings had graduated Harvard with a Bachelor with honors and a Masters degree in English and Classical Studies, he loved Paris and in his time in France he had learnt to speak French. He joined up for the Ambulance corps with his Harvard friend John Dos Passos (writer of the lost generation,) and The Enormous Room chronicles the absurdity of his time spent in detention under suspicion. The book is eloquent and laconic at times, it can also be verbose and sarcastic. cummings is often filled with grace, humility and humor and then just as easily, spite and mockery. He certainly is a deft writer and his changes in style and approach position you within the narrative (often emotionally) and contribute to the strange and incomprehensible world that we are delivered into with him.

The book is interspersed with tales of individual people and events, fellow inmates, the women in the opposite building, the guards who appear as puppets that reminded me of Joseph Conrad's biting quip about "papier-mache Mephistopheles" in The Heart of Darkness. The title of the book comes from the space that the men had to inhabit, it was one enormous room, filled with straw mattresses, metal buckets for water, urine and defecation. The smell, the dirt, the spit on the floor all become common elements of the narrative and the deprivations of decent food, coffee, cigarettes etc. become the epicenter of many of the individual tales.

Despite the inhumane living conditions and the absurdity of cummings' and his friends predicament, this book has a lot of warmth. It is implicitly or inadvertently about the human spirit, about finding happiness in the smallest pleasures, about giving away your last piece of cheese or last cigarette because someone else needs it more. It is about realising that the people around you are unique and wonderful, filled with their own stories and pain. cummings shows us his experience of detention with wit, spirit, humility and empathy. It is a successful autobiographical novel and he draws sated conclusions from his experiences over just four months of incarceration. I personally struggled with some of the French that was utilised within the novel, it really tested my "learn French for travelers" skills. But I would recommend the book as a historical document, autobiographical text of a well known author and an interesting addition to the genre of prison writing.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Goodbye Weekend...

So long weekend! Dylan and I went to the free zoo today and saw wombats, bilbys, kangaroos, wallabies, snakes, lizards and more. It was great getting out, even if it was 28 degrees (82.4 f)!

This weekend I finished reading e.e cumming's The Enormous Room, worked more on my first chapter, watched the film The Lives of Others (fantastic), caught another episode of the Stephen Fry series on endangered animals, Another Chance to See and generally enjoyed being a bit lazy. Hope you had a great weekend!

Weekend Links...

These great images of writer David Foster Wallace's books taken from the University of Texas website and found via The English Muse. Wallace sadly committed suicide two years ago and the Harry Ransom Center now holds his archives. 34 document boxes, 8 oversized folders and 300 books from his personal library - many of which are annotated. The annotated books look like the site of an intellectual struggle, or a garden of ideas blooming or spider web to pin down thoughts - they are wonderful. I write in the books that are pivotal to my thesis (I own them) and I underline and leave myself notes and reminders, page markers, post it notes etc. I am a visual learner and colours and markers help me remember things. How about you? Do you highlight and underline? Do your books look like Wallace's?

Also, another great find on Bellemeade Books reminded me of something I stumbled upon the other day and forgot to blog about. That the Paris Review now has all of its interviews online. Borges, Burgess or Burroughs - who ever you love to read. The Paris Review has a long history of writing about writers and also introducing new writers to the literary world. The magazine started in 1953 and it is probably most recognised for its "Writers at Work" interview series, allowing writers to talk about their own works, and edit the interviews, there are so many interviews - from 1955 onwards. There is also a great article about the interview process here.

Have a great weekend!

Networked Language & Poetry...

I am reading Phillip Mead's Networked Language, a book that explores Australian poetry through specific examples with a focus on language and context, rather than say sketching a broad history or examining a specific poetic movement etc. etc.

I wanted to share just a few short quotes that I enjoyed:

"... poems are patterns of words that are crystallised out of subjective linguistic and socio-cultural solutions that are supersaturated with their own histories, forms and ideologies." (2).

"... poetry draws as much of its life as language from the social and historical strata it is networked to, as from the aesthetic traditions of poetic production." (6)

"... what poetry has taught me, if you like - is that the reason human beings often seem to like poetic language is because they are attracted to all forms of complexity." (6)

I especially love that last one, the idea that we are drawn to complexity. I have also been reading Stephen Fry's The Ode Less Traveled, his wonderful witty, charming and elegant book about poetry. Fry believes that one should savor poetry like wine and take a poem to bed with you and read and reread it in order to enjoy it more deeply. Even single lines can be enjoyed over and over again. Here is one of my favorite little poems:



Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

For a longer poem to take to bed with you try Lawrence Ferlinghetti's Populist Manifesto No. 1.

Why do you think people read poetry - or write it for that matter? Do you agree with Mead that poems are subjective and historical and that their allure comes from their complexity? I had never really thought about being drawn to complexity before reading Mead, I had always thought more along the lines of enjoying words and appreciating the work of a talented wordsmith. Will think more on this.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday Wrap Up...

First draft of literature review... check. Synopsis... check. Abstract... check. Ethical clearance forms... check. First draft of prospectus document for confirmation... check. You are set to begin.

First 1900 words of chapter one... check!

I have started (tentatively) to write my thesis! I have been finishing off all the preliminary paperwork and I am meeting up with my PhD supervisors at uni next week. I have begun contextualising and defining the theories and terms that I will be using, including work from Marx, Wallerstein, Bourdieu, Braudel, Pascale Casanova and Goethe.

I am very excited to have begun; 1600 down, only 60 to 80 thousand more words to write! (I have another three years)

PS. As for the list of graduate student lies, I feel a real affinity for number four and last year when I was doing my Masters, my fiancé was an undergraduate, so I like number seven as well.

Also, two comments from people who aren't related to me was very exciting!

Hope you have also been having an exciting and productive week!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Close to the bone...

The Top Ten Lies Told by Graduate Students

taken from the Harvard Crimson

10. It doesn't bother me at all that my college roommate is making $80,000 a year on Wall Street.
9. I'd be delighted to proofread your book/chapter/article.
8. My work has a lot of practical importance.
7. I would never date an undergraduate.
6. Your latest article was so inspiring.
5. I turned down a lot of great job offers to come here.
4. I just have one more book to read and then I'll start writing.
3. The department is giving me so much support.
2. My job prospects look really good.
1. No really, I'll be out of here in only two more years.

I also found this wonderful little movie through the Interpolations blog.

Called So you Want to Get a PhD in the Humanities. Witty, pity, biting, acidic and very funny.