coming up in april

To see some of John Tranter's photos from the heady party at the opening of the avoiding myth & message exhibition last Monday night click here.

The intersection of Australia’s literary and contemporary art worlds is the subject of a new exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, opening this autumn.
avoiding myth & message: Australian artists and the literary world presents works by 28 contemporary Australian artists whose practice has been informed by literature.

& like any poet
avoiding myth & message
to fake a flashy ode, consider
what model of Australia as a nation
could match the ocean, or get your desk
to resemble a beach/

The exhibition title is a line taken from John Forbes’ ‘On The Beach: A Bicentennial Poem’ (extracted above). Curated by Glenn Barkley and running from 7th April until 12th July 2009, avoiding myth & message takes up major themes within the Australian literary and visual traditions; themes which often overlap, such as landscape/interior, text and image, urban life, politics and the personal. Predominantly an MCA collection-based exhibition, it will include ephemera, publications and media-based works produced by artists and publishers from 1968 onwards.

It includes artists who have worked in an illustrative mode; artists who use words and texts within their work; and practitioners who adopt a more poetic, narrative-based approach inspired by literature’s ability to create a visual world based on language.
Works range from Vernon Ah Kee’s vinyl wall piece ‘Many lies’ (2004) which has been specially reconfigured for the exhibition cascading down an 11 metre wall, to Sandra Selig’s ‘Surface of Change’ (2007), a work created using pages from a children’s science book that have had words removed, leaving a new kind of poetry.

Destiny Deacon, Rosalie Gascoigne, Shaun Gladwell, Robert Macpherson, Noel McKenna, Ruark Lewis, Mike Parr, Imants Tillers, Jenny Watson and zinester Vanessa Berry are included.

Two works from the early 1970s by Mike Parr, ‘Wall Definition’ (1971) and the seminal conceptual artist’s book, ‘Black Box of Word Situations’ (1971–91), will be displayed as they were in Inhibodress when first exhibited in 1971.

Key collaborative book works and journals such as A Package Deal Assembly Book, Magic Sam, Surfers Paradise and Cocabola’s Funny Picture Book will be included in the exhibition, as well as individual writer and artists’ texts and publications, performance footage and works that trace the emergence of feminist, multicultural and gay voices within the literary and artistic scenes. This historical (1970s) section of the exhibition will also include a number of texts reproduced straight onto the wall, as well as works and publications by major figures within the Australian literary and artistic worlds, such as Rudi Krausmann, Tim Johnson, John Forbes, Ken Bolton, Tim Burns, TTO, John Tranter, Anna Couani, Vicki Viidikas, Pam Brown and Micky Allan.

MCA Public Programs are an integral part of the exhibition and many of the works have a performative or interactive component, with a number of poetry readings and talks scheduled to take place throughout the exhibition.

(I’ll post further information on the winter series of events co-ordinated by Morgan Smith of gleebooks closer to the dates in June and July.)


Congratulations Tim

The latest issue of overland includes some terrific poetry thanks to the energised selections (poems by Stuart Cooke, Trisha Pender, Chris Brown, Berndt Sellheim, Jessica Tyrell, Michelle Cahill and others) of the recently appointed (well, last year) poetry editor, Keri Glastonbury, plus there is the wonderful PRIZE WINNING (do italics still signify irony?) poem emoticon by Tim Wright. The prize was awarded to him last weekend in this funny looking building in St Kilda, Melbourne. It's a poetry centre.


Calling Laurie Duggan,
Give me back that copy of The Herd CD I gave you.
You you you traitor !!


Friday Night in Macao

I roll the dice - Contemporary Macao Poetry.
This anthology represents the first serious effort to collect Macao poetry for the English-language reader. A collection of poetry from and about Macao, it contains works by more than one hundred poets. Mainly translated from the Chinese, the volume also includes more than twenty Portuguese-language Macao poets as well as a number of local poets who have composed their poetry in English.

The Association of Stories in Macao (ASM) is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of writing and other artistic expression in and about Macao.'Promotion' includes a range of activities, from publishing (on-line and in print) and the organisation of events, such as book launchings, to poetry readings writing workshops and art exhibitions.
Click here to visit ASM's online journal Poetry Macao


I’ll be at the Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne this coming weekend to see Goodbye Vaudeville Charlie Mudd. But in Sydney I’d be going to Rae Desmond Jones’ book launch in Summer Hill.

click on the launch notice & other images to enlarge : click on bolder grey text for links


New Publications

Martin Edmond’s latest book The Supply Party is about the journeys of the 19th century German painter and scientist
Ludwig Becker
who died at Cooper’s Creek in Queensland
whilst participating in an expedition led by Robert Burke.
Click here for further info and an extract.

Adam Aitken’s new collection of poetry Eighth Habitation
will be launched by Marcelle Freiman at Gleebooks
in Sydney at 4pm on Sunday 5th April.

  Adam Aitken, Jane Zemiro & Martin Edmond, Breakfast at Blackheath, December 2008


Two years ago I read George Stanley’s selected poems from 1957 until 2000 - A Tall Serious Girl - and I became a fan of his writing.

His recent book, Vancouver : A Poem, in which he moves through urban Vancouver noting changes and seeming to talk to himself as he lets his reader eavesdrop, is just about the best book of poems I’ve read in ages.

There is more here than memory

Paterson on the bus, back & forth. Across the city. The 210.
A man & a city.

I am not a man & this is not my city.

In the bar, George Stanley instructs himself to

Write carelessly &
stop focusing

where a pal's maudlin griefy tears can be shed into Benedictine, where

The mind
edges away
from compassion - imagining
itself compassionate -
       leave it to the brain,
leave it to the big boy
to feel, even if it
makes big mistakes, it’s the big boy,
    it’s the one
(& I will not say die

I’m in the bar,
I’m happy but I’m lost whenever I come
to this point
of embarrassment as if to take over
knowledge that not yet
exists, is, write carelessly, write
    at the brink
(like a skateboarder I just saw on TV -
wake up! what time is it? -
crash into the oblong
bales of hay - set up -

He aims
not to be a man
to be a thought

This is the publicity description of the contents of the book :
The Lions [the twin mountain peaks visible from the city] bare of snow, crowded express buses, a giant red turning letter W. 'Vancouver: A Poem' is George Stanley's vision of the city where he lives, though he does not call it his own. Vancouver, the city, becomes Stanley's palimpsest: an overwritten manuscript on which the words of others are still faintly visible. Here the Food Floor's canned exotica, here the stores of Chinatown, here the Cobalt Hotel brimful of cheap beer and indifferent women.The poet travels through the urban landscape on foot and by public transit, observing the multifarious life around him, noting the at times abrupt changes in the built environment, and vestiges of its brief history. As he records his perceptions, the city enters his consciousness in unforeseen ways, imposing its categories and language. Skirting chestnuts on the sidewalk or reading William Carlos Williams's 'Paterson' on the Granville Bridge, the poet travels along the inlet, past the mountains, under the trees, interrogating the local world with his words.

Many of the first drafts of ‘Vancouver: A Poem’ were written in transit, on the bus or on SkyTrain. Others took their first shape in bars or restaurants. George Stanley has learned, he says, "more and more to let the poem write itself. Not to get in the way of the poem."

City of death, city of friends.

Even though it is not his city, George Stanley, originally from San Francisco, and now aged 75, has lived in Vancouver for over thirty years, long enough to have made friendships, acquaintances, to have taught many English classes, and to frequent a favourite local bar. He has passed by the same shops and buildings on bus rides and on foot, and he marks their various transitions. His poems observe tree roots lifting paving stones on the sidewalks, gold ink graffiti on the bus floor, the places where you can go to pee, like Pacific Centre Mall or McDonald's, and so on. When a local bar is closing to be reinvented as some other venue he calls it 'Reterritorialization'.


Seniors know everything.
Correction: Each senior knows everything.
The others don’t want to hear about it.