Jan McKemmish, writer and academic                                           1950 - 2007

Only four weeks after becoming ill with cancer, my friend of thirty-one years and my co-writer of various performance texts,
Jan McKemmish, died at the Freemasons' Hospital in East Melbourne on the evening of Xmas Eve. My partner Jane and
I deeply mourn her death.

(poster by jan mackay)

A Community of the Spirit

There is a community of the spirit.
Join it, and feel the delight
of walking in the noisy street,
and being the noise.

Drink all your passion,
And be a disgrace.

Close both eyes
To see with the other eye.

Open your hands,
If you want to be held.

Sit down in this circle.

Quit acting like a wolf, and feel
the shepherd’s love filling you.

At night your beloved wanders.
Don’t accept consolations.

Close your mouth against food.
Taste the lover’s mouth in yours.


Be empty of worrying.
Think of who created thought!

Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?

Move outside the tangle of fear-thinking.
Live in silence.

Flow down and down in always
widening rings of being.

Michael Hurley read these selections from Rumi’s poems at Jan’s funeral
in Richmond, Melbourne on Saturday 29th December.

Jan McKemmish, Redfern, Sydney in the mid 1980s
(fotos by Margot Nash)


This snap of an oniomaniac, (that is the word, isn't it Melissa?) shopaholic, (well, the trolleys must have been full once), alcoholic, kinda bleak-yet-arty Australian xmas tree arrived in my inbox today, via the University of Technology Sydney academic staff's xmas-greeting emails. I hope visitors to the deletions can appreciate it and meanwhile, I'll wish you, my three or four (five or six?) friendly, faithful readers, all the best for the silly season and for 2008

Santa says 'remember, click on pic to enlarge'


  I heart UbuWeb

There is so much on UbuWeb and it's entirely free.
You just need to make the time.
Factor it in, if you're planning a festive season break.

(does that read like a commercial?)


wonderama fluoroama diorama

A museum in a town called Mount Victoria - it's kind of Victorian

Stuffed, embarrassed or bashful, fauna

click on the images to enlarge them, if you're game


Adelaide, the Athens of the South, has been hosting an international guitar festival that wraps up this weekend. If you stay on in town until Tuesday night you can catch the final in the Lee Marvin Readings - for details CLICK HERE

                        'I'm looking forward to Tuesday night'- Lee Marvin

Also - just published -
The last issue of Jacket magazine for 2007
(special stocking-stuffer issue!)

Click Here To Read Jacket 34

Editor: John Tranter | Associate Editor: Pam Brown


Steve Evans has published the 2007 Attention Span - responses to his annual invitation for listings of what poets are reading. To visit this year's list CLICK HERE
For my contribution to Attention Span CLICK HERE

Steve Evans and Rrose Selavy, 2005


November 30, 2007
Edited by By Eileen Tabios

Galatea Resurrects (A Poetry Engagement) is pleased to release its Eighth Issue with 64 new reviews/engagements including Pam Brown on John Tranter’s Urban Myths : 210 Poems, Peter Minter’s blue grass and Philip Hammial’s Voodoo Realities

Red Room Radio, the audio branch of The Red Room Company, profiles contemporary Australian poetry and poets through interviews, readings and spoken adventures.
In December 2007, a New and Selected Summer Series will be broadcast over the Community Radio Network. Individual shows will include an interview between Johanna Featherstone and the poet, plus poets’ readings. The profiled poets include Pam Brown, Adam Aitken, Claire Potter, Ella Holcombe, JS Harry, Emily Ballou, Jane Gibian and Jaya Savige.

Beginning 4th December 2007 from 6.04 pm (EST) Red Room Radio will be broadcast via the Community Radio Network on Tuesdays. Phone 02 9310 2999 for more information on how to receive this broadcast.


What she say?
The lying rodent is cactus ?
Really ? Great !


 Bert Flugelman's Pyramid Tower a.k.a. The Silver Shish Kebab
  (from 'Sydney' magazine)

Yes, that’s right - that’s Bert Flugelman’s silver sculpture in a more yellowy-green light than usual, in this glamorous photograph from the monthly glossy supplement to Sydney’s daily morning newspaper.

In the 1990’s the sculpture was, without consultation, removed from Martin Place ( by then re-named, without consultation, ‘Martin Plaza’) and placed (or 'dumped') in a city council depot yard in Ultimo, just around the corner from where I lived. It lay there, on its side, for years, until its reinstatement, without consultation, in a small space in the city near the revamped York Street.

Here are my old poems that mention these events and others about My City Of Sydney (and Tommy Leonetti's too) from a decade ago and then later, around 2000.

In Surry Hills

faintly scribbled in sky-blue pencil
on the front wall of my house
in Surry Hills in 1971 -
“is this the hostel where the lazy & fun-loving
start up the mountain”

I don’t think anyone entering the house
had heard of F. O’Hara,
their T-Rex records under their arms,
out to the kitchen to lean against
the fur-lined door I’d made
to honour Meret Oppenheim
& for a sensual lean
as well

At the Ian Burn show
MCA 1997

at the Ian Burn show
there’s a badly recorded
b&w video of Ian Burn
& colleagues performing
anti-authoritarian art spiels -
drumkit, keyboards, guitar, voice -
it’s the ‘Art & Language’ days,
the mid-seventies - recorded,
most likely, on a Sony portapak
(I set one up - a tripod
in the lounge room
of our communal house
& let it run full twenty-minute
brackets to film quotidian comings
& goings).
ah - here’s Terry Smith
with plenty of hair - a stringy beard
&, possibly, an Afro - singing along
in the refrain -
“...ee...gal - it - tar - i - an...ism...!”
I’m chuckling now - this is
amazingly cheering - I feel
it’s my culture - or was - &, easily,
could become
karaoke !
as it contains, for me,
equivalent nostalgia.
ingenuous, idealistic
and schismatic !
direct-action practising populist artists
theoretical conceptual post-object artists
(yet not always nor certainly pro-academic)
it was my schism too, our exegesis,
“artists think” ? well, maybe -
they did, for a decade
all under the same
tin roof

In Ultimo in ‘98

I maximize my traipsing
round the district -

at the end of Bay Street
Bert Flugelman’s silver shish-kebab
lies abandoned
in the Sydney City Council yard
behind the garbage trucks garage
(“Living City”
say the

Another think coming

on time,
speeding into the cold shade
in the mica-blue daihatsu,
hailstone dings patched
with felt-tipped pens
and nail polish,
towards York Street,
the only street
left standing
after two centuries
of demolition –
its sandstone Victoriana
like a row
of determined invalids
suddenly brought into daylight,
stunned in a gone world.

cement-dusted street corners
draped with orange vinyl netting -
framing the unannounced return
of Bert Flugelman’s
silver shish-kebab.

an un-hoped-for cityscape -
two clocks
on the same building
displaying different times

having, so far,
dodged all civics conferences -
now, punctually, I attend
seminar rooms -
a beautifully literal
painted-on patinae
of grime and cracks.

buoyed by
this flâneur
drives everywhere,
imaginary ram-raider
skittling that bricoleur
clutching a fascinating
collection of spoils
in a palm organiser.

attention, attention ,
may I have your

sorry no -
I’m reviewing a few
windows of opportunity
from my workstation desktop,
on the actual desk –
the pale golden colour
of white ginseng
steaming in a china cup
perched on a silvery
compact-disc coaster,
screwed-up pages, red ball-point,
small black radio emitting news -
political party supporters’ dreams
weakened by boom time fluctuations
like comets in a spin

were ‘we’
not to apply
serious scholarship
to metro profit margins’
most pressing questions -
‘we’ might find ‘we’
another think coming.

money now
determines class,
focus, promise, function
& an era
of boredom
tolerated by
the middle classes

mistaking the ruins
for decoration
the dig reveals
bits of polyvinyl chloride,
ribbons of audio tape,
the usual aluminia –
the site becomes a museum,
the souvenir shop’s
elegant glass counters
house miniature replications
of christianity’s clean spires
carefully erected by
gigantic Russian helicopters
in time for the international
sports event
some time back
in the year 2000


Interesting articles and discussions of the marginalisation of women poets can be found in the latest issue of the US-based magazine Chicago Review including links to further discourse on various blogs. And there’s a forum on the perceived exclusion of womens’ experimental poetry by patriarchal poets in the UK in the upcoming issue of Jacket magazine.
I think this discussion needs to be raised again in Australia. Are there any younger women poets out there with the time and dedication to construct a survey and write it up ?

dear readers, remember, if you click on the bolder, darker grey words in the text they will link you to web sites


To view more of Trish Davies' photos of Kurt Brereton's exhibition opening at Hat Hill Gallery on November 3rd click here

art opening this coming saturday 3rd november

Rise: Kurt Brereton

Hat Hill Gallery
3 Hat Hill Road

Opening talk by Pam Brown
6pm Saturday 3rd November

Exhibition continues until 25th November
More info click here

From the catalogue notes : “The title of the show RISE alludes to a host of connotations – of climatic increasing in sealevels, air temperatures and greenhouse gases. There is also a play on the risible; humorous play acting - taking the piss out of the deathly serious - as an antidote to the morbidity that surrounds us at every media news corner.”

Snorkel Issue 6 is now available for perusal. Edited by Cath Vidler with assistance from associate editor Nick Reimer. Poems by Michael Hall : Pam Brown : David Prater : Kerrin P. Sharpe : Changming Yuan : Harry Ricketts : Nirmala l. Vasikaran : Sarah Jane Barnett : Todd Swift : Ruth Arnison : Martha Hardy-Ward : Mary Cresswell : Greg McLaren : Chris Price : Carol Jenkins : Sue Fitchett


meanwhile, more from the manicured, topiaried town of leura - just a day or two ago


You know summer is on the way in Sydney when there are suddenly so many events to choose from that you just feel like lying down on your outdoor recliner in the shade of a tree with a book and going to nothing . . . but (!) it's still only spring so you'll hop across to all of them . . .

In Place : Virginia Coventry
13th October - 3rd November
Tin Sheds Gallery
Architecture Faculty
University of Sydney
City Road

The two Kens
Ken Searle Ken Whisson
17th October - 10th November
Watters Gallery
109 Riley Street
East Sydney

                           Painting by Ken Searle

                           Painting by Ken Whisson

Belle of the Cross by Angelika Fremd
13th-28th October
Tap Gallery
278 Palmer Street

Sam Wagan Watson reading poetry
Friday 26th October 6.30pm
Performance Space,
Building 3,
University of Technology Sydney
(Corner of Harris St. and Broadway.
Entry on Harris St)

Sundays @ 2pm Poetry readings
Whiteley Studio
Raper Street
Surry Hills

Sunday 28 October
* Jane Gibian
* Petra White

Sunday 25 November
* Greg McLaren
* Elizabeth Campbell

I’ll have to go to this one because Kurt has asked me to give a speechette at the opening…
Rise: Kurt Brereton
1st - 25th November
Hat Hill Gallery
3 Hat Hill Road
more info click here

FourW New Writing magazine launch
2.30pm Saturday 17th November
49 Glebe Point Road


Dry tropics

every minute counts

four lines a day
snap frozen


Lorine Niedecker,
what would she have to say
(‘pick up that bucket’)


my brief career
as a shopkeeper

my new life
tending the demented


exit gaps stuffed
with strips of newspaper
against the western chill

‘chill factor’
has become
‘feels like’


in a pastoral
blackened eucalypts
might dance

for me, it’s useless
a treeless plain,
then describing it

continually changing landscapes
are way too much

sickly yellowing weeds,
bogged gullies,
cracking surfaces

ruining pristine reefs
and so on


the wind gusts furiously,
the verandah lattice
blown from its frame

like living
in a light house

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

raise the blinds
turn up
that medina music,
start keening now


Twenty+ Ways to Teach Poetry
Without Comprehension Questions


Tristan Tzara
To Make A Dadaist Poem

preparations for the poetry class


dinner out
at the Renee Geyer cabaret,
neon turning blonde hair pink

warm cocktails
in a harbour bar
the old beauty
of an autumn evening


in a gadda da vida
and other stormy music


a million droplets,


world gone somewhere,
dry tropics


in Bangalow
revisiting the site
of my truck crash

a new shop
has been built
in the ditch



listening to segu blue

Bassekou Kouyate is a virtuoso of the ngoni (West African lute), approximating the larger kora (West African harp) in sound but with a tougher, more percussive edge. Outside his home country of Mali, where he is widely celebrated, Kouyate is known for his work with artists like the late guitarist Ali Farka Toure—he was featured on Toure's posthumous album Savane (World Circuit, 2006) — kora player Toumani Diabete and American roots musician Taj Mahal.

Segu Blue is, Kouyate's debut recording as leader. It's an album of understated but awesome beauty, full of lush melodies and supple rhythms, deep, peaceful and healing; happier sounding than Ali Farka Toure's music, but equally weighty and mesmeric.

Kouyate's band, Ngoni Ba (”the big ngoni”) is a quartet of ngoni players — treble, mid range and bass — augmented by Kouyate's wife, Ami Sacko, on lead vocals, and two percussionists. Guest singers and musicians are also featured. The earthy tenor Zoumani Tereta takes lead vocals on two tunes; shades-of-Ali Farka Toure electric guitarist Lobi Traoré is featured on another. All the tunes are drawn from, or closely based on, traditional Bambara music from the Segu region of Mali: three are traditional, all but one of the others are composed by Kouyate.

The album is almost as much Sacko's as it is Kouyate's (in the Malian capital, Bamako, husband and wife are the musicians-of-choice at wedding celebrations, feast days and other traditional gatherings). She's known locally as “the Tina Turner of Mali,” but this must be for her looks more than her voice, which—apart from her cathartic delivery on “Lament For Ali Farka”—is lightfooted and soft-textured.

                  Bamako Market, foto by Peter Ptschelinzew

Behind Sacko, the four ngoni players weave in and out of each other's lines with such intricate intimacy that, pitch aside, it's often hard to tell where one instrument stops and another one starts. The effect is rather like hearing a broader-ranged kora played by eight hands. The treble and mid range players favour crisp, brisk, tumbling riffs, the bass anchors them with more measured ostinatos. “Segu Blue” itself is one of just two instrumental tracks, and the piece closest to Ali Farka Toure's savannah blues in feel and notation.

Segu Blue was produced by the British writer and broadcaster Lucy Duran in Mali, and mixed by Jerry Boys (of Buena Vista Social Club repute) in London.

(With thanks to Chris May of ‘African Jazz’)


sound poetry in melbourne

Starting this coming Thursday,
La Mama Poetica
presents Voiceprints as part of the
Melbourne International Arts Festival

La Mama Poetica: Voiceprints, an eclectic polypoetry (literally poetry of many possibilities) mini-season. The programme includes live works by visiting Japanese sound poet and composer Tomomi Adachi, Sufi-inspired World Jazz by Ali Alizadeh and musicians Elissa Goodrich and Ria Soemardjo, Sydney-based poet Amanda Stewart, TTO and visual artist Sandy Caldow, Ania Walwicz, Emilie Zoey Baker, Peter Murphy and jeltje with the improvising chorus Unamunos Quorum.

Amanda Stewart, 2005

Voiceprints has been inspired by international polypoetry festivals in Ghent (krikri), Berlin and Barcelona, and strives to widen conceptualized expectations of what poetry is. The performance-orientated pieces bear witness to the struggle of finding a contemporary and authentic voice in times of language crisis - something beyond the page, sometimes even beyond the confines of language itself.

La Mama Theatre
205 Faraday Street

Thursday October 11 and Friday October 12 @ 8pm
Matinees: Saturday October 13 and Sunday October 14 @ 2.30pm
Sunday Oct 14 fully booked

Ticket prices: $25 full/$15 conc.

Running time: 2 hours 15 mins. approx.

To gain an idea of Amanda Stewart's kind of unique vocal performance work,
here’s an excerpt from unexpected synergies by Bernadette Ashley -
a review of recent ‘see hear now’ performances in Townsville
(from the current issue of realtime)

performance 4: untitled

The most effective incorporation of visual art was achieved in Performance 4.

Movement artists Nicole Keen and Kate Hooper were wrapped together in a single stretchy white sack centrestage. As they contorted in response to Amanda Stewart’s vocal performance, visual artist Michelle Deveze drew on the cloth. Slower passages allowed her to make deliberately directed work, while at times the movement artists’ staccato responses caused Deveze’s charcoal marks to become random and opportunistic, confined to wherever she could establish contact with her heaving canvas in the moment. A further layer of intrigue was added by local artist Donna Foley’s simultaneous responses using a data tablet, the images projected onto the dancers and walls.

Stewart’s voicework and Foley’s projections carried a heightened synergy underpinned by Foley’s specialisation in the intersection of the visual and aural. Just as Stewart pares back language from the coherent into its component parts, Foley’s calligraphy, using stylus on data tablet, is like pre-writing scribble, almost fooling the audience into believing they could decipher, in Foley’s chaotic, lacy marks, what Stewart was vocalising.

The intensity showed in Stewart’s mobile features and taut neck muscles as she worked rapidly back and forth between two microphones. An unbelievable array of effects was conjured. At times it was like someone quickly turning an old radio dial across stations, or overhearing the sighs, whispers and tragedies of the inhabitants of a whole apartment block all at once.

In between evoking echoes of kissing, popping, chattering teeth, ripping velcro, rain, trains, Morse code from space or a penguin colony in distress with her hoarse, breathy scat, Stewart threw in the odd, tantilising word, which she later described as “a rant for the underlings; women and low caste people.”

Foley’s projected marks changed colour, overlapped, intensified until the screen was practically filled, emptied and the process begun again. The lighting replicated changing weather. Photographer Glenn O’Mallley ducked and wove through the action, adding his shadow to the backdrop as he recorded Deveze trying to tame a ground which behaved like a large, unruly and reluctant animal.

Eventually Stewart’s vocals wound down from disturbing to soothing, ending quietly with “fait accompli...the economics of us...” She walked away from the microphones cueing Foley and Deveze’s last slow lines as they all eyed each other.

These disparate elements married to produce a multidimensional, sensual and random collage. The eye was kept moving, the ear straining and the mind racing to connect the nuances of voice, hand and body: an engrossing journey.


rose street

Last week I visited Melbourne again, staying with family in Rose Street, Fitzroy. Wandering down to the busy strip-shopping precincts of Brunswick Street in one direction and Smith Street in the opposite, each day I passed many, many examples of stencil art and other graffiti - ephemeral art forms that I love. From an L-plate sprayer to an old friend, Guru Adrian, these photos are only a small sample of the traces on the walls of a short couple of blocks of one street in Australia's stencil graffiti capital. Let's stroll...

click on each image to enlarge