Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Open to suggestions...

I just received an email from Penguin about their Black Classics range, now $9.95 in Australia (bargin). Clicking over to the Penguin Black Classic page I scrolled through the varied and wonderful offerings and my imagination landed on So Bright and Delicate: Love Letters and Poems of John Keats to Fanny Brawne  and it got me thinking about wedding readings. It might seem like a tangent, and I grant that it is, but in the back of my mind I know I need to choose readings for my pending nuptials in September. We are getting married in a de-consecrated chapel with a celebrant, so there won't be any hymns or prayers, but I do like the idea of having a couple of readings instead, these could be in the form of poems, letters, quotations etc. I want ones that are romantic, but not too cliched. Any ideas? Any favorite poems or readings suitable for a wedding ceremony?

Friday, June 24, 2011

For the Weekend...

Have you come across the On the Road ebook yet? Apparently it comes with additional data like maps, audio files, commentary etc. You can read more about it at the Los Angleles Times here. I haven't downloaded it and I am not sure that I will. But I think the possibilities are exciting. I love books as tangible objects, but imagine being in school and the book you have to read comes not only with additional notes, but commentary, audio files, interviews, interactive maps etc. Surely it would make the book more accessible in some ways, allowing students to get more from it. Or am I idealising things?

It wouldn't just be for students of course; I remember the first time I read On the Road, and I have to admit my American geography is not that great (and despite having been there now, it still isn't). An interactive map would have helped me a lot, following Kerouac on his adventure - especially as I have not idea about miles (we have kilometers here people!) and so I never knew how far he had traveled, or walked, or hitched.

Anyway, I've got to run to the library now but if you get a chance this weekend check out the Queensland Poetry Festival website as Wednesday was the launch of the 2011 Program at Riverbend books. It was a great night on the deck at Riverbend and the QPF program looks exciting!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Implicit irony...

Ivor Indyk pointed out (at the 2011 SHARP conference that I went to in Brisbane) that Michael Dransfield is now out of print for the first time in over thirty years (though Michael Dransfield: A Retrospective selected by Kinsella [2002] can still be purchased online from UQP). Dransfield has retained something of a cult following and is referred to provocatively on an unofficial tribute web site as “The obscure, the forgotten, the little-known Shakespeare of Australian poetry” (Sweatywheels). He is anything but forgotten; however in many ways it is in keeping with the myth of the poet that Dransfield, the poètes maudit –  the most prominent of the generation of 68 poets, the most re-published poet of the period – would be lauded for his obscurity. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Images from here

I found these paper bags of paper things on etsy. Just looking at these wonderful collections of ephemera makes me want to get some scissors and glue and start making collages. I am a big fan of airmail envelopes and shipping labels, their functionality is attractive, but I like their industrial simplicity and iconic style. I also  like airmail stamps, those declaration stickers that come on the front of overseas parcels and "my name is" stickers. I buy postcards, keep movie tickets and exhibition stubs for my journal. But enough about me, I am obviously not the only one with a paper things fetish.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Pounds to dollars...

Today I have been looking at changes that were occurring in the 1960s in Australia. I've been piecing together different elements of the social-political landscape from that decade, and I came across this great clip for the introduction of decimal currency. I had never seen any of the advertising campagin for the 1966 currency change. It reminded me of when I was little and my Grandpa still referred to things as costing "two bob", or a "shilling" and so forth, and I never knew what he was talking about. So I hope you enjoy this random little find. Perhaps teachers should show this clip to kids in school today?

PS. Also just found some great rediscovered clips of Beat poets reading, they have been up loaded here

Monday, June 20, 2011


Upcycled bookends. Aren't they fantastic?

They make me want to go buy some vintage cameras and super glue!

from here
and here

and here

and here!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Quote of the day...

South Coast Haiku - Laurie Duggan

rain drips through
the tin roof
missing the stereo

PS. Laurie Duggan is doing a reading in London at the British Museum in conjunction with the current "Out of Australia" print exhibition. Check out his blog.
Wednesday June 22nd at 1.15 pm in Room 90 where the prints are on display. 
Admission is free and all are welcome.

PPS. My sister has featured me (well some of my wedding arrangements) over on her blog today.

PPPS. If you get time over the weekend check out this great blog found via Literary Musings. Jen keeps track of the amazing conversations she has with customers in the bookshop she works in. Here is a sample:

Customer: Do you have a copy of 1986?
Me: 1986?
Customer: Yeah, Orwell. 
Me: Oh – 1984. 
Customer: No, I'm sure it's 1986; I always remember it because it's the year I was born. 
Me: ... 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

More Francis B...

Fantastic clip about a Francis Bacon exhibition, the exhibition has finished, but it shows you inside his studio and gives you an overview of his life and his work.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Unrelated cover art...

Bohemians of the Latin Quarter arrived in the mail yesterday and I have to say it has, by far, one of the most unrelated covers I have come across. Flowers and butterflies adorn the cover of this book about Bohemians in Paris in the late 1800s. I bought this book for some background reading for my thesis. It is embarrassing to look at, not one you would want to be caught reading on the bus or train!

But it has come in handy already. From the draft chapter I am working on:
The term, poètes maudits (accursed poet) was popularied by Paul Verlaine’s Les Poètes Maudits (1884,1888), a collection of studies of neglected French poets (including Rimbaud) (Burch 752-53). Rimbaud – romantic, Symbolist, decadent and libertine – reputedly referred to by Victor Hugo an “infant Shakespeare”, has become the enduring figure of the poètes maudits. And this idea of accursed/ rebel poets and the youthful genius of Rimbaud have created an idealism that emanated throughout the decades, and was taken up in varying ways by many generation of 68 poets. What Rimbaud provided, more than any form or style, was rather a model for how to be a poet, a rebel, a fringe dweller, an idealism regarding poetry and the idea of poetry as a serious, even revolutionary commitment. Daphane Merkin has characterised Rimbaud as the “patron saint of adolescent attitude”, “a debauched and restless prodigy” and one could add figure head of the spirit of bohemianism to the account.

The bohemian myth existed even in Rimbaud’s time in Paris, “the idea of the artist as a different sort of person from his fellow human beings” a myth “founded on the idea of the Artist as Genius… the artist against society”. Bohemians are the embodiment of “dissidence, opposition,[and] criticism of the status quo” (Wilson 3). Henry Murger introduced bohemians to Parisian consciousness in 1850s with his short stories based around the lives of artists, where the essential basis of bohemianism was represented as a life lived for art. 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Poetry of Dreams...

On Saturday Dylan and I bused it over to South Brisbane with a couple of friends and met up at the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) with my twin sister, her husband and their little boy to see the Surrealism: The Poetry of Dreams exhibition. The seven of us explored the exhibition and then delighted in the children's section downstairs where we created surreal collages, before getting lunch at the gallery cafe by the river.

It was a lovely way to spend a Saturday. The artworks are on loan from the Pompidou in Paris and there was a great array of paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures on display. Personally I didn't enjoy how it had been curated. I find that with these "blockbuster" style of exhibitions they try to make the experience rather idiot proof by creating basically a pathway to follow to see the exhibition. While this might streamline things when their are big crowds, it also created a series of ugly chambers and small rooms, and you would shuffle from one un-aesthetically shaped room to another.

I liked that the walls had been painted grey, but I didn't like how dimly lit the whole exhibition was, I think it was more for film display purposes (there were projected surrealist films scattered throughout the exhibition), rather than conservation. The dim lighting meant that as you walked into the Dada section at the beginning of the exhibition (a great idea to help contextualise Surrealism), you found yourself confronted with Duchamp's Bottle Rack suspended mid air and lit artistically to produced wonderful shadows. The problem for me was that with the suspension and lighting, the bottle rack became less of a "ready-made" and more of a vintage nostalgic fetish object.

Whilst I enjoyed the exhibition, especially the photographs by Man Ray and Dora Marr and the children's activities, I wouldn't advise you to go along if you are expecting to see a lot of Dali and Magritte paintings. There are wonderful things to see that you probably can't see anywhere else in Australia, like a Magritte sculpture and exquisite corpse drawings and collages; but for mine, I wish that the gallery had utilised space better to blend the films, lighting and rooms together to make a more aesthetically pleasing show and had borrowed some more works from interstate galleries to augment the exhibition.

Vintage clip art available here to make your own Surrealist inspired collages.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Bonnie Prince Billy

I had a moment this afternoon looking through my CD collection when I realised it has been at least six months since I played a CD. Between my ipod and laptop, I haven't pulled a CD out of the draws since we moved. But it was lovely looking back over my collection and remembering songs I haven't heard for some time.
Here is one that stood out. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bacon and Dyer...

I love that Bacon worked from photographs and his paintings function in some ways as autobiographical narratives,  and I just wanted to share a few examples. George Dyer was Francis Bacon's lover and muse from 1963 until Dyer's overdose in 1971. Bacon continued to paint Dyer obsessively even after his death. I find these images, the photographs and the paintings, both beautiful and difficult. He painted so many canvases of Dyer, but I am not sure if it was the love or guilt that he never got over...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Best Bad Reviews...

I have been living under a rock - again. I just found the Bad Reviews of Good Books blog through the First Tuesday Book Club page. It is wonderful and has me laughing. The latest installment of Bad Reviews on Good Books is about Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. Here are some of my favorite quotations about Mann's novella found on the blog:

"I dod not like the writing. Almost entirely about homosexuality."
"I can relate to regretting a hasty travel decision and wishing it wouldn't pan out somehow. But the pedophilia just creeps me out."
"What an insane book. I don't know how you give a lot of stars to a book about a dying pedophile but most of what I remember about the book is the graphic descriptions of how everyones genitals smelled, which I guess is worth something."

Definitely worth checking out.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I have gotten some great emails in response to my quest to find the first mention of a "generation of 68"  in reference to Australian poetry (refer to last post); but I still don't actually have an answer. So the quest continues...

On the good news front, I have organised flights and accommodation for the Deakin poetry conference next month in Melbourne. I love Melbourne and the Tutankamun exhibition is on at the museum while I am there. So it is very exciting.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Unrelated picture

I am looking for the first mention of the "new poets" as "the generation of 68". Apparently the term was first used by Thomas Shapcott in the Australian Book Review. Shapcott mentions that he used it first in an interview that I read*, and John Kinsella writes about it in the intro to The Penguin Anthology of Australian Poetry (2009), and Livio Dobrez mentions it in Paranassus Mad Ward: Michael Dransfield and the New Australian Poetry (1990) (though he just refers to said interview with Shapcott). But I can't find it in any Australian Book Review journal! 

I emailed both Kinsella and Shapcott. The email from Kinsella just said that he was "permanently off email". The reply from Shapcott said that he thinks the first time he used the term in ABR was as early as 1968 or 69. I have been through every issue that I can get hold of at the University of Queensland and I cannot find mention of the generation of 68 by Shapcott in the late 60s or early 70s. I have found and photocopied every article written by Shapcott around these times that are listed on the "Aust. Lit" database to no avail. The earliest mention I can find is from John Tranter in the special issue of Australian Literary Studies in 1977. It is a bit of a mystery. Any ideas? Can anyone help?

* McCooey, David. "An Interview with Thomas Shapcott." Australian Literary Studies 18.1(1997): 79-84. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Quote of the day...

Richard Packer, writing about Robert Kenny's preface to the Applestealers (1974) anthology of new poetry, argues that "His prose is the most remarkable achievement since Mein Kampf."*      Ouch.

A small random sample from the first page of Mein Kampf that I clicked on:
And the German counter-action was a complete failure.
In the person of the man whose intellect and will made him its leader, the army had the intention and determination to take up the struggle in this field, too, but it lacked the instrument which would have been necessary. And from the psychological point of view, it was wrong to have this enlightenment work carried on by the troops themselves. If it was to be effective, it had to come from home. Only then was there any assurance of success among the men who, after all, had been performing immortal deeds of heroism and privation for nearly four years for this homeland.
But what came out of the home country? - Adolf Hitler

*Packer, Richard. "Against the Epigones." Quadrant 95.19.3 (1975): 67-72.