Thursday, January 10, 2013

What Happened to Bill Beard?

In the course of my research for the PhD I've looked through literally hundreds of poetry magazines from 1968 to 1979 that "generation of 68" poets published in and edited. A name, slightly outside my area of study kept cropping up: Bill Beard. Beard published in a large number of new Australian poetry magazines in the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s including: Cat, Contempa, Crosscurrents, Dodo, Free Poetry, Flagstones, Leatherjacket, Leaves, Magic Sam, Mok, Our Glass, The Great Auk,  and The Ear in the Wheatfield. He was also a regular contributor to New Poetry. In fact, Robert Adamson referred to him in an issue of New Poetry (23.1 [1974]: 4) as "Australia's most expansive and at the same time singular poet." Just pick up a small press poetry magazine from Sydney or Melbourne in the 1970s and you'll probably find Bill Beard in it. But who was he? What do we know about him? There is no Wikipedia page, no literary biography available, no critical writing on his work, and so on. Just a Bill Beard sized gap.

In the "Notes on Contributors" section in Kris Hemensley's The Best of the Ear: The Ear in the Wheatfield 1973-76, A Portrait of a Magazine (Melbourne: Rigmarole Books, 1985) it states:

BILL BEARD (Australian). Involved in poetry & performance all over Australia since the late ‘60s. With Hemensley and Ken Taylor, one of the original “La Mama” poets (pre-Poetry Workshop). Published in numerous magazines, but no book yet.

Not much to go on is it? He was a La Mama poet in Melbourne in the late 1960s, there is mention elsewhere of him writing poetry in a fire-tower on the New South Wales and Victorian border in the 1970s, and that is about it. I looked him up on the AustLit database (a database of Australian writers and publications) and it said he died in 1970. That seemed strange considering all of his publications in the 1970s. The National Library record for William Beard aka Bill Beard said the same - d.1970.  I posted a comment on Facebook and Robert Adamson and Pam Brown assured me he was still alive. So I emailed a number of poets I've been in contact with during the course of the thesis to find out more about him, and one of them passed on a mobile number.

Wow. Bill Beard had gone from d.1970 to a person with a mobile phone. So I rang him. Turns out there are two Australian writers named William Beard, and one of them was publishing novels in the 1940s and one of them has been publishing poems since the 1960s. It seems that the entries on the database somehow got merged. Mystery solved, in part (I still don't know a hell of a lot about him other than that he published poems in magazines). Beard said he is still writing and performing poetry, he has never published a book of poems and has never wanted to, and he prefers not being part of any scene. He doesn't even want a biography on AustLit that lists his year of birth. He said he would rather "cast no shadow." I respect that. 
Then again, having published over the decades in at least twenty magazines, a shadow remains.

N.B. The AustLit entries have been corrected to reflect two William Beards - thanks Carol. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

APJ publication

I am very excited that my second interview with Laurie Duggan is being published in the latest issue of Australian Poetry Journal alongside some great poets and critics including Carmen Leigh Keates, Martin Duwell and Robert Adamson. From the AP website:

Pre-order the Australian Poetry Journal 2.2

Pre-orders are available for the Australian Poetry Journal 2.2: Art. Books purchased now will be sent before the launch of the volume in early December.
A biannual publication, the Australian Poetry Journal features only the highest quality in contemporary Australian poetry, with exciting new names sharing the pages with our most acclaimed and established poets.
Edited by Bronwyn Lea, the journal also includes a range of incisive critical reviews and articles highlighting the most interesting debates and discussion in Australian poetry today.
The Australian Poetry Journal 2.2: Art includes new poetry by Christian Bök, Luke Davies, Diane Fahey, Sarah Holland-Batt, Carmen Leigh Keates, Anthony Lawrence, Rosanna Licari, Nikola Madzirov, Iman Mersal, Peter Rose, Philip Salom and others; criticism by Stuart Cooke, Martin Duwell, Angela Gardner, Kerry Kilner, Kate Lilley and Fiona Scotney; and a Spotlight on Francis Webb by Robert Adamson.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


The AHA conference was excellent, and while I was in Adelaide I visited the Museum, Art Gallery, Botanical Gardens, and Ken Bolton's Dark Horsey Bookstore. It was a great week, the hostel was friendly, the weather was mostly fine, but I have come down with the flu and have spent everyday in bed since I arrived home on Saturday night. I am going to climb back under the covers now, have a great week.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

This semester...

Image credit RobertAdamsondotcom

In other news, I will be tutoring this semester for Intro to Contemporary Literature at UQ, giving a guest lecture on Robert Adamson's The Goldfinches of Baghdad, and doing external marking for The Art of the Story course run through USQ. Very exciting. Meanwhile, I am still writing chapters for the thesis, editing interviews, writing journal articles etc. Life is busy, but fantastic.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Week ending...

Photographs of Montsalvat

The Melbourne "Revealing the Reader" symposium was fantastic. As was getting to the Napoleon exhibition at the NGV, the Heide gallery and also the Montsalvat artist colony. While we were at the Heide gallery we saw a photograph of Montsalvat being built and looked it up on own phones and realised it was only 15 minutes drive from the Heide gallery. So we went exploring. Hidden away in Eltham is Australia's oldest artist colony, uniquely built with French Provincial cottages and neo-gothic architecture (including a Great hall and a Mead hall with salvaged stain glass windows). Built in the 1930s, Montsalvat is still home to practicing artists, and has several galleries as well as a chapel, and we were lucky enough to spy a wedding while we were there. It would be a beautiful place to rent a loft, write a thesis, and take breaks in the 12 acres of gardens while roaming about with the peacocks.

Today my cold and I are flying to Adelaide for the AHA Connections conference. I've stocked up on cold and flu tablets and packed layers of clothes, but it looks as if it will be a cloudy, rainy, and cold week there. I present my paper tomorrow and hope to explore Adelaide some before I come home on Saturday. My list of things to do includes the Adelaide gallery and museum, the Adelaide uni library (research for my thesis), and Ken Bolton's Dark Horsey bookstore

Have a great week!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2012 QPF

Image from here

In case you haven't seen it yet, the 2012 Queensland Poetry Festival (QPF) program has been launched. Check it out online here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

I've been a little bit busy...

I have been marking first and second year papers, finishing a chapter for the PhD, and preparing to go to Melbourne this week for the Revealing the Reader symposium at Monash. While I am nervous, as I will be presenting my first conference paper, I am thrilled to be going to Melbourne and staying with a dear friend, and hopefully getting along to the Napoleon: Revolution to Empire exhibition at the NGV and Collected Works Bookshop.

When I get back from Melbourne, I will have another week of marking before going to Adelaide for the AHA Connections conference, where I will also be presenting a paper. It will be my first time in Adelaide and I will be staying in a backpackers in town close to the uni - should be interesting!

Monday, June 4, 2012


Alan Jefferies. Image credit: Speedpoets

I had a wonderful time at Speedpoets on Saturday. There was a really eclectic mix of readers this month including a table of what could be described as post-neo-Romantic poets channeling everyone from Byron, Keates and Shelley, to Dransfield, Marylin Manson and Iggy Pop. Meaning there was a lot of velvet and lace, leather and character hats. There were also a number of regulars, The Lucky Ones played, and Michael Cohn delighted the audience with a series of short observations about sausage rolls - he also won call back poet for June, so he will be battling it out in the future against other call back poets.

I enjoyed hearing poems from guest poet Julie Beveridge's forth coming book home{sic} and also Alan Jefferies who launched his new book Seem. Jefferies read a number of poems, my favorite being "People have strange reactions to my poems" which contains the lines,

A poem, well placed
can clear a room in seconds
a train station in a matter of minutes

People say outrageous things about my poems
but the worst by far
are those that smile faintly and say
"have you thought about writing prose." 

Speedpoets is on the first Saturday of each month at Brew cafe in Brisbane's CBD from 2 - 5pm. There are usally a couple of guest poets and three open mic sessions. It is a great way to spent a Saturday afternoon and only costs a gold coin donation.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

More good news...

Jens Ferdinand Willumsen: Sophus Clausssen Reading Poems 1915

I have been accepted to present a paper at the Revealing the Reader Symposium at Monash next month. So that is two conferences this year now. One in Melbourne and one in Adelaide. Both papers will be on "mini-mags", poetry magazines published in Australian from 1965 to 1979. The Adelaide paper will address networks and connections and the Melbourne paper will examine readerships for the magazines. Both papers draw on the research I conducted while on the National Library Summer Scholarship at the beginning of the year and will form part of chapter four of my PhD thesis.
Lots of work to do now. I am 8500 words into chapter two at the moment, and I've got two conference papers to write now!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Kill your darlings...

Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg. Image credit

Hot off the back of the film "Howl" (2010), "On the Road" is scheduled for release this year, and next years Beat film is already in post-production: "Kill your darlings". It is a film about the Carr-Kammerer murder in 1944 when Ginsberg was at Columbia University. Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs' novel (unpublished until 2008) And the Hippos were Boiled in their Tanks is also based on the murder.

Lucien Carr wasn’t a writer, but he was an important catalyst for Ginsberg and the Beat generation as he introduced Ginsberg to a number of future Beat writers, including Jack Kerouac (arguably the most well-known figure of the Beat generation, he named the generation and wrote one of its defining texts, On the Road) and William S. Burroughs (who wrote Junkie and Naked Lunch and coined the phrase “Heavy Metal”). These three writers formed the inner circle of the Beat generation.

A quick sketch of the murder (more detailed accounts can be found elsewhere). Carr was from St Louis and moved to New York to escape the attentions of David Kammerer (his boy-scout leader), but he followed him to New York. Kammerer had gone to school with William S Burroughs and Carr was friends (despite the unwanted sexual advances from Kammerer towards Carr) with Kammerer and Burroughs. In 1944, after a night of drinking together near Columbia University, Kammerer apparently made unwanted advances towards Carr and Kammerer tired to overpower Carr who responded by (ironically) stabbing him with his boy scout knife. Carr paniked and weighed Kammerer's pockets with stones and rolled him into the Hudson river.

Carr then went and saw Burroughs, who flushed Kammerer's bloody cigarettes down the toilet and told Carr to get a lawyer. Instead Carr went and saw Kerouac, who helped him dispose of the knife before going to see a movie together. Eventually Carr did turn himself in, but couldn't be charged immediately as the body had not yet been found. Kerouac and Burroughs were arrested as accessories. Carr was sentenced to 20 years in prison, of which he served only the minimum 2 years.  He went on to have a successful career in editing and died in 2005.

There are also some new Beat documentaries on the way, more information on Another Lost Shark.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More great news!

My abstract has been accepted for the AHA "Connections" conference in Adelaide in July! So I will be off to Adelaide for a week to present a paper and learn more about history. I've never been to Adelaide before, but I can't wait!

First lecture

Betty the Beatnik Paper doll. Download here

I gave my first ever university lecture yesterday on Allen Ginsberg's poem "Howl" and Sylvia Plath's poem "Daddy" for a first year poetics class. It was a wonderful experience and I think it went well. I got great feedback from the lecturer and my amazing freinds, who came along to a 5pm lecture on a Monday afternoon to support me, and then took me for a drink afterwards.  Thanks guys.

Monday, April 30, 2012

About to be published...

L to R : Michael Darley, Terry Larsen, and Laurie Duggan

My interview with Laurie Duggan, Australian poet and all-round lovely guy, is about to be published by Southerly as part of their "Nest of Bunyips" edition being launched on the 8th of May. More information on the Southerly website.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More "On the Road" movie posters

Garrett Hedlund is Dean Moriarty a.k.a. Neal Cassady

Sam Riley is Sal Paradise a.k.a. Jack Kerouac

Kirsten Dunst is Camille a.k.a. Carolyn Cassady

All poster images from On the Road facebook page. See the offical movie website for more details.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I like the idea of these line a day journals for five years - I imagine looking back over the last few years of entries and seeing what I was doing on that day in the previous years - but I am not a daily writer. I tend to write in my journal sporadically, and while I write at least once a week, I don't think I am the line a day kind of person. I like to glue things in. I like to save public transport tickets, movie stubs, and exhibition postcards  to glue and sticky tape into my journals. I like to include photobooth photographs, free maps, postage stamps and other people's old receipts and shopping lists that I find in library books and while grocery shopping. I started doing this in my travel journals and it became a habit. 

That is why I have come to love the Moleskine sketchbook. I bought one by accident, I meant to buy a large notebook and picked up a sketchbook, but it was a happy accident. The pages are thicker and stand up to my sticking and gluing and my black ink fountain pen doesn't show through the pages (like it did in the notebook).  The sketchbooks probably don't have as many pages as the notebooks, but I like that they are unlined and can write as in them as large or small as I want to. 

I don't buy Moleskines because I think I am Bruce Chatwin or Ernest Hemingway (even though I love both of them), I buy them because I like the size, the weight and colour of the paper, the rounded corners and the portability. I also like the envelope in the back, the elastic close and the simplicity of them.

Do you journal? Do you have a favorite brand, or style, or size? Have you ever had a line a day journal - did it work for you?

N.B. This is not a sponsored post, I just thought I'd share my favorite style of journal. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

New in the mail...

Image from Shearsman Books

Laurie Duggan's new book of poetry, The Pursuit of Happiness, arrived in the mail yesterday. I really enjoy Duggan's poems and style - his observations, wit, breavity, and word play. I have only had a chance to glimpse the first few pages, but I have already found lines to make me smile.

cement slabs, on which
black-faced sheep forage

the explosive factory
blew up in 1916

(from "Angles 1-18")


avoid places the guide books describe as 'bohemian'
only the northern edge of Brera begins to feel like real people
live there

the sparrows are smaller than English sparrows
but the pigeons and blackbirds are the same size

in Veronese's 'Last Supper'
everyone appears drunk

Medardo Rosso sculpts
like wax melts

Ball's 'Dog on a leash'
just about describes the Quadrilatero d'Oro

the Stazione Centrale is under wraps
the futurists have abandoned the city

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Reading: A Small Greek World: Networks in the Ancient Mediterranean by Irad Malkin.

I haven't changed my thesis topic, I am still looking at new Australian poets, but I am also looking at the networks that contribute to the formation of a literary generation. As such, I have been reading up on social network theory for models that provide a way to move beyond binary representations or centre-periphery models. Malkin's book offers a way to examine decentralised and non-hierarchical networks, and while his focus is obviously on the ancient Mediterranean, chapter one offers a great introduction to network analysis (thanks Martin for lending this to me!).

There is a new review on the Australian Poetry Review site on John Leonard's Young Poets: An Australian Anthology (2011).

And Friday night Sam and I went and saw Bombshells at the Queensland Performing Arts Center. Sam's review of the performance has been published on M/C Reviews.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Researching parodies...

I am researching parodies of Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" for a lecture I am giving this month. So far I have found "Whisper", "Yelp" and "Tweet". Do you know of any other good ones?

Here are the first lines from the ones I have found (follow the links above for the whole poem):

Whisper - Jeffery Bilbro
I see the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, clamoring futile
locked in cubicles, staring wide-eyed at shifting, flickering screens that monitor the
pulses of nations,
chained by headphones, cell phones, emails, texts, breaking news, virtual friends,

Tweet - Oyl Miller
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by brevity, over-connectedness, emotionally starving for attention, dragging themselves through virtual communities at 3 am, surrounded by stale pizza and neglected dreams, looking for angry meaning, any meaning, same hat wearing hipsters burning for shared and skeptical approval from the holographic projected dynamo in the technology of the era

Yelp - Tiffany Shlain & Ken Goldberg
I saw the best mind of my generation distracted by text messaging, emailing, tweeting, dragging their cursors through google links at dawn, looking for an info fix,
Angel-headed hipsters burning for the ultra-fast heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.

On the Road posters...

Alice Braga is Terry a.k.a. Bea Franco

Amy Adams is Jane a.k.a. Joan Vollmer

Elisabeth Moss is Galatea Dunkel a.k.a. Helen Hinkle

Tom Sturridge is Carlo Marx a.k.a. Allen Ginsberg

Viggo Mortensen is Old Bull Lee a.k.a. William Burroughs

Have you seen these yet? These are the official movie posters that have been posted on the On the Road - The Movie facebook page. Still waiting for posters of: Kristen Stewart (as Marylou, aka Louanne Henderson), Kirsten Dunst (as Camile, aka Carolyn Cassady), Sam Riley (as Sal Paradise, aka Jack Kerouac) and Garrett Hedlund (as Dean Moriarty, aka Neal Cassady).

What do you think? Do you like the aesthetic of the posters? Or do they look a little over photoshopped to you? I personally find the little quotes floating beside their faces a little distracting, they don't seem very embedded into the overall image. Regardless, these posters certainly make me think about what the film might be like.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Another weekend...

Another wedding. Hope you had a great one!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Today is...

UNESCO World Poetry Day!

From the UN website
Poetry contributes to creative diversity, by questioning anew our use of words and things, our modes of perception and understanding of the world. Through its associations, its metaphors and its own grammar, poetic language is thus conceivably another facet of the dialogue among cultures. Diversity in dialogue, free flow of ideas by word, creativity and innovation. World Poetry Day is an invitation to reflect on the power of language and the full development of each person’s creative abilities. 
So here is a poem for World Poetry Day about poetry.

My Heart
by Frank O'Hara

      I don't prefer one "strain" to another.
      I'd have the immediacy of a bad movie,
      not just a sleeper, but also the big,
      overproduced first-run kind. I want to be
      at least as alive as the vulgar. And if
      some aficionado of my mess says "That's
      not like Frank!", all to the good! I
      don't wear brown and grey suits all the time,
      do I? No. I wear workshirts to the opera,
      often. I want my feet to be bare,
      I want my face to be shaven, and my heart--
      you can't plan on the heart, but
      the better part of it, my poetry, is open.

                                                                                                                     Poem from here.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2012

    I want to travel...

    Dylan and I are saving up for a European adventure (which may have to be put on hold until I finish my thesis), but in the mean time just looking at these leather travel goods from Corban and Blair make me want to pack my suitcase (actually the Henri Cartier Bresson exhibition at QAG had the same effect on me). But damn their marketing people for emailing me images of delightful travel inspired products, now I am day dreaming about flying into Turkey and meandering across Europe to London...

    NB. This isn't a sponsored post, I just got an email today from Corban and Blair and I liked their products. 

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    Goodbye Weekend...

    Photo by Jakeson Adriaans

    Dylan and I at the wedding. What a night! It has taken me most of Sunday to recover and we have another wedding this coming weekend. I will be back to working on the thesis tomorrow, but it was a great weekend spent catching up with family. 

    Some photobooth photographs from the wedding. 

    Saturday, March 17, 2012

    Book shelf lust...

    all images via book shelf porn

    Some pretties for the weekend... now I think I need a ladder...