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new & coming up in may -

Mark Young's   O T O L I T H S -
a new issue celebrating 10 years
of poems, visuals, & variations -

Come celebrate the 10th anniversary of the journal with Pam Brown, Jesse Glass, Philip Byron Oakes, Marco Diotallevi, Travis Cebula, Charles Borkhuis, Kyle Hemmings, Daniel Y. Harris, Jack Galmitz, Mark Melnicove, Michael Allen, Raymond Farr, Jennifer MacBain-Stephens, Texas Fontanella, Jane Joritz-Nakagawa, Archana Kapoor Nagpal, Pete Spence, Joel Chace, AG Davis, Márton Koppány, Sanjeev Sethi, Martin Law, Gheorghe Marian Neguțu, Niloofar Fanaiyan, Tomás Sánchez Hidalgo, Andrew Brenza, Luisa-Evelina Stifii, John M. Bennett, John M. Bennett & Baron, John M. Bennett & Jim Leftwich, Tim Suermondt, Scott MacLeod, John W. Sexton, Andrew Topel, Francesco Aprile, Catherine Vidler, Olivier Schopfer, Lakey Comess, Louise Landes Levi, Richard Kostelanetz, bruno neiva, Hugh Schwarz, Timothy Pilgrim, Billy Cancel, Cecelia Chapman, Amelia Dale, sean burn, Zachary Scott Hamilton, Bill DiMichele, Javant Biarujia, Valeria Sangiorgi, Steve Dalachinsky, Charles Freeland, Michael Prihoda, Bobbi Lurie, Glen Armstrong, Jeff Harrison, Martin H. Levinson, Carol Stetser, Christopher Barnes, hiromi suzuki, sutcliffe lovingood, Edward Kulemin, Laurent Grison, Ana Prundaru, Clara B. Jones, Marco Giovenale, William Garvin, Stephen Nelson, Aidan Coleman, Rebecca Eddy, Bob Heman, Annette Plasencia, Bogdan Puslenghea, Carla Bertola, Tom Beckett, Alberto Vitacchio, Susan Gangel, Jeff Bagato, Kit Kennedy, Owen Bullock, J. D. Nelson, Brendan Slater, John Pursch, Ginny O'Brien & Michael Basinski, Matthew Carbery, Karl Kempton, Seth Howard, Sal Randolph, Gian Luigi Braggio, Robert Lee Brewer, Shloka Shankar, Shloka Shankar & Bill Waters, Tony Beyer, Marcia Arrieta, Tim Wright, Arpine Konyalian Grenier, Michael Brandonisio, Eric Hoffman, Reijo Valta, & Katrinka Moore.

anthology from the recent conference
Active Aesthetics : Innovation & Aesthetics in Contemporary Australian Poetry
at University of California Berkeley, 14-16 April -

for further information about the conference & the anthology visit the website here

Ann Vickery's Ghostly Sisters :
Feminist collaborative performance in Australia

has just been published here in issue 10 of Axon

       Ann Vickery at Berkeley, April 2016

This article examines how feminist performance has been, and continues to be, a key vehicle for the collaborative exploration of sexual difference and female subjectivity in Australia. It focuses specifically on the Lean Sisters and Generic Ghosts, whose collaborative performances occurred during the seventies and eighties, and their impact on subsequent feminist collaborative performance groups. As the article demonstrates, this counter-cultural tradition of performance typically deploys tactics of intertextuality, cross-media experimentation, humour, and détournement to critique gender oppression and its recurrence, while staging new possibilities of an embodied feminist politics.

The Lean Sisters : Netta Perrett's poster for The Poetry Water Gossip Show :: at Bondi Pavilion Theatre The Adventures of Shirlean Holmes, October 1977 (photo by Helen Grace) :: the Queen's speech - The Crunkboonk Xmasshow at The Tin Sheds, December 1977

Elizabeth Drake & Pam Brown at The Performance Space, December 1984 : Generic Ghosts - Amanda Stewart, Jan McKemmish, Pam Brown, Carol Christie at Writers in the Park, 1986 : Jan Mackay's poster for As Much Trouble As Talking 1988

Coming up on Sunday May 15th in Sydney -

As usual, click on any images to view them

in seattle in april -

to visit the INCA web site click here
please click on the info above to enlarge for reading

in sydney

for information, directions
& to rsvp for the reading click here.

everyone welcome.

in melbourne

If this sounds a bit 'blurby' it's because I wrote it as a possible back cover encomium for Melbourne poet, critic and academic, Ann Vickery's wonderful new book of poems Devious Intimacy -
In Ann Vickery's sophisticated collection of poems you can certainly "appreciate the tenor of a carefully played code" as she applies her natural critical ability with caustic lucidity. These poems cut right through cultural habit and cant and put paid to any "theoried regrets". Beneath what is said here lie enigmatic layers of what is unsaid. In these poetry games Purgatory is "full of hoons", ecopoetry offers "Terroir on tap", "higher purpose" is possibly "hire purchase", and poets can be "word-burgled". The exhilarated scepticism of Ann Vickery's cogent language is lightly modulated by occasional ironic Edwardian phrasing and formality in mementos for friends and eulogies to favourite women writers and artists. This is arrestingly incarnated poetry diffused with female luminosity.

I did 'hear' a kind of Edwardian tone in some of the poems. I suppose the distinction or binary between Edwardian and Modernist writing is entrenched but I don't think that transition was a simple one. Edwardian women did grapple with women's suffrage, class, divorce laws and so on and I think Ann's poems do that too. I don't think the traces of 'formality' she uses seem 'Victorian'. But, reluctantly, I ended up adding that hackneyed word "ironic" to conciliate my response.

Here are two poems from Devious Intimacy :

An Eye for an Eye 
             after Simone de Beauvoir

Freedom belies reciprocity. This, lovers know.
Some say her head was shaved to stave off murder,
		a kindness of sorts.  
Vengeance calls for the collaborator
to experience her own ambiguity
decamped as subject		visibly wracked or unwomaned.
Oholah, too, was once caressed by foreign hands.
Paris lays bare the ancient crime of being-in-common.
	Seduced by aesthetics  	   the punished example
After paradox there is only theory, to fail at splitting hairs.

Ecopoetic Ecumenical

Purgatory is by nature hot and full of hoons.
Temperature, not temperament, a nice set of wheels.
It’s generally the assholes that get all the love poems.
Once in the greenhouse, you sat
contemplating the properties of peat, an idea of warmth 
through being trapped. A poem is a miracle of distillation
strophing mood like water from plastic, 
the fuelling station’s quick fix for the final leg.  
When it comes to a bucket list of romance, or seasonal variation,
try razing the grapes, particularly those handpicked and curlicued.  
Cling to a hundred little homilies. Leave others to their heirloom pursuits: 
love’s climate countdown is inordinately inevitable. Terroir on tap.
For more information about Ann Vickery, the book, and to order a copy visit Hunter Publishers here.
Devious Intimacy is Ann's second collection after the booklet The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon, one of the ten deciBels series published by Vagabond Press in December 2014. That book has been well-received. Some of its poems are included in Devious Intimacy.

Dan Disney reviewed The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon in 'Cordite Poetry Review' -

Ann Vickery’s The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon hits an entirely different timbre, the poet taking up a cerebral stance in poems ticking like bombs. The title surely doffs toward Bernstein’s ‘The Klupzy Girl’, in which:
    Poetry is like a swoon, but with this difference: it brings you to your senses

Instead of bombs, then, these texts are perhaps a kind of Triage. Vickery tells us in the first three lines of the book how:
    This is just fun-size confectionary,
     pet-name or a pose generator, to palliate
     the impracticalities of play

Yet these texts are neither minor nor mere confections; in the first, ‘Swoon in Miniature; or, The Youth’s Pleasing Instructor’, Vickery’s encompassing gaze lights upon the spectres of Heidegger, Shakespeare, Bowie and a host of others; in this poem-as-Wunderkammer, the critique seems anti-yob and voicing revolt, an enduring shriek of concern for what we may have become: psychically anorexic but feasting nonetheless on ‘Digestible elements of a dickybird world’. Vickery’s fractious, rebarbative style is always a sharp read:

    Wind-up lips at the fountain of youth,
    standing pixelated in the Radiant Light
    spray. I claim my five minutes
    of hegemony, you slightly more.
    Tear-streaked, we wander through
    Ovid, deep culture on your shoulder.
    Art’s shade to cast one more version.
    To build from hazelnuts a small estate,
    A measure lined with elaboration

The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon is an intertextual mosaic of glinting remnants from across canons; Vickery has sampled and remixed from tropes, dictions, genres, to create a Steinian (‘a mirror is a mirror is’) or perhaps Frankensteinian suite of texts in which affect, or vignettes thereof, seems largely abandoned in favour of traced contours of an ‘endless short circuited ghosting’ of spectacles. What seems clearest is that Vickery is not interested in taking readers prisoner with totalised accounts of individual experience; just as ‘Affection never did find a home where it wanted to stay’, these non-lyrical texts flare up as if ‘goosebumps on the earth’s curved hide’. Vickery weirdly hits all the high-notes of abjection; this poet-as-reader or reader-as-poet seems to scorn lyric traditions (truth, beauty, etc) as clichés, as nothing less than master narratives promulgated by regimes. Instead, this is a book floodlit with zeitgeistful attenuations of a changing world; its style both tracks and promotes the shift.

You can find The Complete Pocketbook of Swoon here.

This morning at Coogee Bay wreaths of kelp wrapped around my legs in the foamy wake of the waves. Breezy day, cool grey-blue ocean. I wandered up the beach to the sea pool. I swam across and then let my feet find the mossy bottom of the pool in the shady murky part under the battered concrete wall where the waves crash. Squishing squelchy toe pleasures.

Afterwards I bought a coffee at 'chish 'n' fips' and sat at a table near the park reading Claire Nashar's first book of poetry, Lake. A reading experience of being deeply and pleasantly 'fluoresced'.

As Ann Vickery says in her thoughtful and detailed introduction to the book - "Lake is a stunning debut and I expect it will itself become both impetus and node for many ... leaving a mark that is simultaneously touching, fecund and mobile."

The lake is Tuggerah Lake on the Central Coast of New South Wales. Claire includes a simple map of it that's mainly just lake and sea. The map was drawn by the cover designer Zoë Sadokierski. And the poems are like this map - mostly with just enough information, underwritten, notational, sparse with plenty of air around them. Some pages are exceptionally minimal. Some a little more 'traditional' (if that's the word - maybe 'approaching conventional' suits them better...).

Lake is dedicated to Claire Nashar's grandmother, Beryl, a geologist who spent her life researching rock composition in New South Wales. While it's a poetic account of the day the Nashars buried a loved family member it is also a profound tribute to the lake itself.

It is a beautiful work that is attentive to, among many other things, ecology, to both the effect and affect of human activity on a 'land/lake'. In her brief (three paragraph) precise preface Claire acknowledges "Long before us and long after us the area [Tuggerah] is home to the Darkinjung, Awabakal and Kuringgai peoples." She also says that she initially called this cluster of poems a 'necro-geography' because of its interest in the dead things of the lake.

This is a complex, meticulous book that uses unobtrusive yet utterly original experimentation to realise its intentions. I'll let Claire Nashar tell you more : "The poems in this book do not always start and end on discrete pages, and none have titles, although sometimes the index points a way. Muddle-headed pronouns, tenses and other grammatical disagreements reflect the porousness of subjecthood, action and time. Such disagreements are always fluoresced by subjects like love, death and life. Where there is blank space in these poems, as with most blank things, it is not empty"
Here are two extracts, out of context, so, really, an impression -

Published by Cordite Books and available here
as usual, click on the pages/images to enlarge them