Monday, January 30, 2012

February Reading list...

Pam Brown's "Fifty-one contemporary poets from Australia" introduction is available on Jacket 2 here. Part one can be found here and part two here.

The latest Cordite Poetry Review, No. 37, "No Theme", edited by Alan Wearne.

Martin Duwell's review of the Plunkett anthology at Australian Poetry Review.

John Tranter's online Journal.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Happy Chinese New Year...

 "China Dolls" at the National Museum, Canberra

Another Saturday at the Library to make up for the public holiday - but what a wonderful Australia Day. We went to Chinese New Year celebrations at the National Museum, followed by an afternoon beverage at the Botanical Gardens and in the evening a string quartet performance in the foyer of the National Library. Afterwards we watched the fireworks over the lake from the verandah of the library.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Week Four...

Week four run down:

Sunday... Renaissance exhibition with Dylan's grandfather and the other NLA scholars was lovely.

Monday... working on poetry magazine lists at NLA followed by dinner with friends.

Tuesday... morning tea at the War Memorial with the Summer scholars from the Museum of Democracy and the War Memorial and dinner with a friend who has just gotten back in the country.

Wednesday... met for coffee with the lovely Sue from Whispering Gums and Dylan's cousin for lunch. This week has been incredibly social yet productive.

Thursday... Australia Day - Chinese New Year celebrations and fire works on the lake.

Friday and Saturday... back to work at the library.

I have to thank John Tranter for sending me through some great leads, reviews, contacts and articles and also Nicholas Pounder for all of his helpful suggestions and titles to track down.

Happy Australia Day and Happy Triple J's Hottest 100!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

At this moment...

Giovan Battista Moroni 'Girl from the Redetti family'
1566–70 oil on canvas 43 x 33 cm
 Accademia Carrara, Bergamo

I am back into the National Library despite it being Saturday, trying to make up for the day we will miss for Australia Day this week and also feeling the pressure now that we have reached the mid point of the scholarship - only three weeks to go.

My list of Australian poetry magazines from 1968 to 1979 has doubled in the last week from twenty to forty, and the list does not including the big ones (New Poetry, Poetry Australia etc.). So lots of work to do - but I am going to the Renaissance exhibition tomorrow at the National Gallery.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Shead's 1960s films...

The Experimental films of Garry Shead have been released on DVD and are avaliable at artfilms. Shead is better known for his visual art rather than film making, he is an Archibald prize winning painter and also won a Dobell prize for drawing, but he has been making short films since the early 1960s and has now released three discs of experimental art films. You can see some clips on the 7:30 ABC news report avaliable here, which includes interviews with Shead, Wendy Whiteley and Martin Sharp.

Thanks Jon for sending me the link to this - I have purchased the DVD.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

ADFA and Duntroon...

Outside the Academy Library

ADFA Academy Library manuscript boxes 
Duntroon House, Duntroon

Today I caught the bus to the Australian Defense Force Academy (ADFA) with Michelle (another National Library scholarship holder). She went to Duntroon House and the Bridges Memorial Library to look at archives and I went to the AFDA Academy Library to look at the papers of Robert Adamson, Rudi Krausmann, John Forbes, John A Scott and John Tranter. 

The Academy Library is operated by the University of New South Wales and sometime in the not too distant past had funding to buy Australian manuscript collections and hence why they hold papers from generation of 68 poets that I am studying. They also have some poetry magazines there that are not available at the National Library (Aarvark and Mindscape). It was strange walking out of the library and seeing Army officers and Federal Police everywhere, but I loved the non saluting area sign (above). 

After I had finished going through the collection boxes I met up with Michelle at Duntroon house and we were allowed to do a little self-guided tour. It is the oldest homestead in Canberra, and despite the decades of renovations and extensions it still holds artifacts from the original owners. It was an eventful research day. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I went and saw the Handwritten exhibition at the National Library today. It is free, but you have to book a time as it has been so popular. The exhibition contains one hundred works from the Berlin State Library spanning one thousand years, from illuminated texts to letters by Thomas Mann, Franz Kafka, Michelangelo, Napoleon and many more.

There are manuscripts from the sciences, philosophy, literature, politics, exploration and even music scores. The display is laid out chronologically and there are didactic panels explaining each exhibit and the writer's significance. I went at lunch time and it was very busy, so I will visit it again one morning during the next month to see the things I missed and to have a good look at some of the things I shuffled by too quickly. But even my brief visit has already got me thinking about my appalling handwriting in my journal and the significance and amazing longevity of these well preserved texts.

The exhibition is on until the 18th of March 2012 and there are evening events to coincide with the exhibition.

Discovering new poets...


It seems almost unimportant
when you put it like that.
Just so many sheets laid end to end,
so many cups of coffee.

- Andrew Darlington

Premonition of civil war

A tree branch caught
in a street lamps light.
A hanging capitalist.

- Andrew Darlington

in Your Friendly Fascist no. 8 c. 1972

Yesterday I was reading Andrew Darlington's poems in old editions of Your Friendly Fascist, a Sydney based poetry magazine edited by Rae Desmond Jones and John Edwards throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s. Edwards moved to the UK and so the magazine includes a number of international writers, including Andrew Darlington. I googled Darlington and found what I thought was his blog, he kindly emailed me back and confirmed that he is the one and same Andrew Darlington who was publishing in Your Friendly Fascist in the 1970s. Darlington blogs about music, books and poetry here.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week Three...

Night Rider

He travelled on
the night bus

with a suitcase full
of revolution

to blow
the edge of darkness
                                      George Cairncross (UK)

in Your Friendly Fascist no. 6 c. 1972 ed. Rae Desmond Jones and John Edwards.

"John Forbes once said that the Australian poetry scene was like a knife fight in a telephone booth."
- Laurie Duggan in dialogue with David McCooey

"Poetry throughout the 1970s ran the danger of being the cloest thing we had to a bloodsport."
- Don Anderson, "American Graffiti, or 'I'm living in the Seventies'" 1982 Meanjin 41.1

And yet there is a colletivist approach to the underground poetry magazines. Despite the passions and disagreements (and the odd beer can thrown at a poetry reading) the magazines do give a sense of a supportive network. An almost self-sufficient network where young poets could bypass the established networks by virtue of their relationships with other young/ youngish poets who acted as audiences, editors and publishers. Maybe that was part of the problem though, you had to be part of the network...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

National Gallery Sculpture garden...


Mirror sculpture, mist machine and mist over pond with bronze heads.

Friday, January 13, 2012

End of week 2...

The best of all possible poems

Like a dreaming shark
or a very quiet limb
waiting for the lecture
to make it a star the
best of all possible
poems relaxes asleep
in the tropical surf
beginning near the
right hand corner of
the room. meanwhile
just outside my window
inter-island trade
begins. their supply
of coconuts is endless

                                              John Forbes 

Published in Issue 1 of Surfers Paradise magazine 1974

I am enjoying looking though the poetry magazines, compiling contributors lists, looking at the cross-advertising that was occurring for other poetry magazines, the bookstores listed that stocked the magazines, recommended books, up coming protests/ poetry readings/ workshops etc. and reading lots of great poems - like the one above.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Why does the Nation Library have so many obscure poetry journals?

Ploughman's Lunch first issue

Text reads: This is the first issue of a pamphlet of poems entitled ploughmans lunch is presented to the National Library of Australia in accordance with Section 201 of the Copyright Act 1968. Contributions of poems, graphics drawings and money are eagerly sought by the humble editor. Also Librarians heads on silver plates. (Signed) Gary Oliver 1. January 1974.

Opp. text reads: Special erratum sheet prepared for copy number 155 forwarded to National Library & posterity.

As you can see, the answer is actually very simple; it is because (lucky for me) the poets knew section 201 of the copyright act 1968 which required them to send copies of their magazines to the National Library, Canberra. Hence why the National Library has almost every poetry journal from 1968 onwards that I want to study.



Delivery of library material to the National Library

(1) The publisher of any library material that is published in Australia and in which copyright subsists under this Act shall, within one month after the publication, cause a copy of the material to be delivered at his or her own expense to the National Library.

Penalty: $100.

(2) The copy of any library material delivered to the National Library in accordance with this section shall be a copy of the whole material (including any illustrations), be finished and coloured, and bound, sewed, stitched or otherwise fastened together, in the same manner as the best copies of that material are published and be on the best paper on which that material is printed.

(3) When any library material is delivered to the National Library in accordance with this section, the National Librarian shall cause a written receipt for the material to be given to the publisher of the material.

(4) This section is not intended to exclude or limit the operation of any law of a State or Territory (whether made before or after the commencement of this Act) that makes provision for or in relation to the delivery to a specified public or other library in or of the State or Territory of copies of library material published in the State or Territory.

(5) In this section:

"illustrations" includes drawings, engravings and photographs.

"library material" means a book, periodical, newspaper, pamphlet, sheet of letter-press, sheet of music, map, plan, chart or table, being a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or an edition of such a work, but does not include a second or later edition of any material unless that edition contains additions or alterations in the letter-press or in the illustrations.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Afternoon tea amusements...

and [Like A Version: Eskimo Joe - Somebody That I Used To Know]

Underground Australian poetry magazines of the late 1960s and early 1970s...

A list (thus far)...

Mok started: March 1968. editor: Robert Tillett, Richard Tipping. location: Adelaide. issues: No. 1 (Mar. 1968)-no. 5 (Spring 1969)
Crosscurrents started: May 1968. editor: Michael Dugan. location: Melbourne. issues: Vol 1.1 no.1 – 1.1 no. 4, vol. 2.1 – 2.2 October 1969
Our Glass started: May 1968. editor: Kris Hemensley. location: Melbourne. issues: seven issues
Transit started: September 1968. editor: John Tranter. location: Sydney. issues: two issues
Cat started: July 1969. editor: Andrew Jach. Location: Beaconsfield Vic. Issues: one issue
Mindscape started August 1969. editor: Norman Thompson. location: South Oakleigh Vic. issues: one issue
Flagstones started: August 1969. editor: Ian Robertson. location: Heidelberg Vic. issues: five issues
The Great Auk started: September 1969. editor: Charles Buckmaster. location: Parkville/ Gruyere. issues: twelve issues. Holocaust 2 is also The Great Auk 7.
Free Poetry started: October 1969. editor: Nigel Roberts, Terry Gillmore, John Goodall. location: Sydney. issues: eight issues
Free Grass started: October 1969. editor: anonymous (John Tranter) location: Sydney. issues: one issue
Poem started: 1969 editor: Ross Thompson, John Tozer, location: Hawthorn, Boronia. issues: two, issue one no date. issue two November 1969.
Aardvark started: 1970. editor: John Jenkins. location: Box Hill South Vic. issues: one issue
Manic magazine started: March 1970. editor: R.J Deeble. location: Richmond Vic. issues: one issue
Earthship started: October 1970. editor: Kris Hemensley location: Southampton, Hamshire. issues: No. 1 (Oct. 1970)-no. 13 (Oct. 1972) Second series, called The Ear in a wheatfield, began in 1973
Contempa started: 1972. editors: Phillip Edmonds, Robert Kenny. location: Armadale Vic. issues: 1-10, Series 2, no.1-6
Leatherjacket started: February 1972. editor: (issues 3) Cheryl Adamson and tom thompson. location: Sydney. issues: four issues
The Ear in the Wheatfield started: May 1973. editor: Kris Hemensley. location: Hawthorn Vic. issues: 1(May 1973)-19 (Dec. 1976) No. 20 published in "Rigmarole of the hours" series issue entitled "3 blind mice".

Also Your Freindly Fascist, Timestream, Mere Anarchy, Ploughman's Lunch (just Ploughman after second issue), Fitzrot, Fields, Dark Areas, Makar, Dharma, Etymspheres... I am still researching them.

The "mini-mags" or underground poetry magazines of the late 1960s and early 1970s offered a space for poetry which was outside established poetry magazines and journals. These early magazines were often gestetnered off by hand and sold cheaply (30 to 45 cents). Many survived for only one issue, but new ones seem to have been surfacing regularly, and others like Contempa ran for six years before financial strain caused it to cease. New printing technology gave this generation of poets the opportunity to bypass the "gatekeepers" of poetry in Australia by making their own publications. Even though many of these poets were being published in newspapers and mainstream magazines, the mini-mags offered a creative freedom that doesn't seem to available elsewhere at that time.

For me one of the most startling early handmade poetry magazines is The Great Auk by Charles Buckmaster. When he printed volume one in September 1968 he was seventeen years old and publishing La Mama poets like Michael Dugan, Bill Beard and Kris Hemensley. By the third issue in 1968 the cover carries Buckmaster's urging "TO ALL SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS.. GET OFF YR ARSE & DO SOMETHING!!!... start YR OWN undergrounds.." and included work by Ken Taylor and John Jenkins, as well as Hemensley, Dugan, Ian Robertson and Andrew Jach. The Great Auk becomes a who's who of the underground poetry publishing scene until mid 1970.

For more information on Australian poetry magazines from this time there is a great early article on poetry magazines by Dennis Douglas in Overland no.41 Winter 1969 (p 46-7) titled "Mini-Mags and the Poetry Explosion" and what amounts to a follow up article (in many ways) by Phillip Edmonds in Contempa Series 2/1 1975 (n.p) called "'Little Magazines' (1971- 75)".

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Week Two Day Two...

Some days I feel like I accomplish a lot and other days I can only see the piles of books, poetry magazines, CDs and photocopies on my desk that are still waiting for me. When I was offered the scholarship I was worried about what I would do for six long weeks at the National Library, now that the days are flying by and their is so much to do I think I could stay for another six! Suffice to say I am enjoying doing the research immensely, but the next step is of course to start writing. I have 18mths in which to write the thesis (and a six month extension is available if I need it) and I really only have one chapter at the moment completed (and it will need to be revised once I have written everything else)... so I still have a long journey to go, but really I am loving it. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Week Two...

National Library, Canberra

My excitng news today is that Cordite Poetry Review has published my review of Michelle Dicinoski's Electricity for Beginners. Michelle has also been featured on Graham Nunn's blog another lost shark.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

National War Memorial...

National War Memorial, Canberra 

Inside the dome above the unknown soldier  


Simpson and his donkey sculpture

I went to the War Memorial today with some of the scholars and some Canberra based friends, it was an interesting and somber experience. The last time I was there was when my family came down for the opening of the Vietnam Veteran's memorial and I was about twelve years old. Today I was amazed to discover that the War Memorial gift shop contained a book on Vietnam that contained photographs of and by my Father. It was strange to see him in uniform, clean shaven, and twenty years old. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Day Four...

Advertising for other underground poetry magazines in the back of Cat poetry magazine, 1969.

One of the other scholars yesterday pointed out that the poetry magazines I was looking at listed bookstores that the magazines were available in. It is something worth pursuing - how these underground magazines were distributed and how they cross-promoted. I have provided some examples of advertising in Cat, The Great Auk, and Free Poetry that also allow you to see what gestetnered pages look like. Click on the images to see them larger.

The Great Auk issue 8

Free Poetry issue 4

Free Poetry issue 4

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day Three...

My office.
Behind the scenes.

I've spent today listening to interviews and poetry readings and taking notes. Inbetween CDs I have been requesting more materials and I went and had a look at the Michael Dransfield papers, I wish I could show you the photographs I took! This afternoon a cache of underground poetry magazines turned up for me and I have been pouring over their gestetnered pages; titles include "Free Poetry" by Nigel Roberts, "The Great Auk" by Charles Buckmaster and "Flagstones" by Ian Robertson. On there way are more small undergound poetry magazines like "Transit" by John Tranter, "Cat" by Andew Jach and "Our Glass" by Kris Hemensley. Fantastic reading.

At lunch I went for a walk to Old Parliment House, saw the rose gardens and ducked into the Portrait Gallery (again - I went there yesteday). Finished the night with Thai and a drink with my fellow scholars.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day Two...

Patrick White's glasses in National Treasures exhibition. Image via.

Currently at the National Libray, sitting in my little office and slowly swamping myself with books, typscripts, audio of interviews and manuscript guides. PhD research heaven. To get books and audio I just put requests through on the computer and then a little while later go and collect them from just around the corner. And for the manuscripts I pop in a form at the manuscripts desk two levels up and then go back later to sit and read through the materials and take notes or photographs of the pertinent things. I have been poping in all manner of requests to keep me busy for the rest of the week (and probably next week too).

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Day One...

Above. The National Library. Fish in the pond where we are staying at ANU. A shot within the accommodation complex. 

This morning we were picked up and whisked off to the National Library and spent the day doing incredible behind the scenes tours, exploring the book stacks, the archive and manuscript compactors and the cold storage space for recordings in the oral history collection. We got assigned our office, internet log-ins, email addresses, security clearances etc. and met with a number of specialist librarians and collection officers. We discussed our projects and the libraries holdings and found out how to fill in retrieval forms, where to get the best coffees and that there are 15km of shelves devoted to the manuscript collection at the National Library. Tonight I went into Civic for dinner with my fellow scholarship holders, who are all lovely and very interesting and studying very diverse topics, i.e. the Governor's Generals role, women's reading in the 19th century and migrant camps in Australia. I am happy and exhausted. Tomorrow I get to start requesting manuscripts, but today was just an amazing day of internal library sight seeing and meeting with clever talented people.

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Adventure Begins...

I arrived in Canberra tonight. My sister and her little boy visited this morning to say goodbye and Dylan waved me off when the taxi came to collect me this afternoon. The scholarship is exciting, but a little nerve racking, and it was sad to say goodbye to Dylan and Christina for six weeks. I am staying on campus at the Australian National University and tomorrow morning someone from the National Library is going to come and pick up the scholarship holders and take us for our first day at the library. And so the adventure begins...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

This past me by...

in 2011 - an article from October by John Tranter on the Thirty Australian Poets anthology called In Praise of Poets with PhDs. Found via Graham Nunn's another lost shark. Thanks for the link Graham and Zenobia. It is an interesting article by Tranter. I've been wanting this book and after reading Tranter's and Zenobia's thoughts I really want to get hold of it.

PS. I have since purchased the anthology and have been enjoying reading it.

It's New Years Day...

and my New Year's resolution is to write, write, write this year.

Original plan of Canberra found here.

Tomorrow I fly to Canberra for the six week Summer Scholarship at the National Library in Canberra. It is very exciting. I've been packing my suitcase and the house. Our lease runs up this month and the owners want to renovate so Dylan has to move house while I am away - poor thing. We have secured another little cottage not far from the city.

I plan to blog about my experiences at the library and when I get home I plan to just write, write, write! I have carried out and complied many interviews with the poets I am researching, I have files and folders of reviews, poems, letters, essays and articles etc. I am looking forward to being able to add to this during my time in Canberra and then concentrating on writing chapters for the next twelve months.

Do you have any New Year's resolutions, literary or otherwise?