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December 31, 2019

31 Dec

On this last day of 2019 (which many also believe to be the end of the decade) we also say goodbye to Project 366 (or Project 365+1). Project 366 was started by Kit Kelen and a number of colleagues 4 years ago with the intention to try and write and load a poem a day for a year. Many poets have passed through the project and it has obviously lasted more than a year. I managed to load a poem a day for a month and then added the occasional poem over the following months and years.

To mark the passing of the project, and to mark the passing of a decade I decided to load one last poem. Taking Auden’s ‘September 1, 1939’ as my guide, I made a few changes to try and reflect the reality of living and surviving in an Australia which denies climate change and which is burning and burning and burning. You can find my attempt, ‘December 31, 2019’ at:

‘A new normal’ – a poem dedicated to the community in Blue Mountains published in Bluepepper.

24 Dec

My poem, ‘A New Normal’, which is dedicated to the wonderful community in the Blue Mountains, has just been published in the Katoomba based journal Bluepepper. My thanks to editor Justin Lowe for accepting this poem.

Over the last months I have been in awe of the efforts of all the RFS crews who have worked so hard to protect life and property across the mountains and across the state. I can’t thank you enough.

Blue Water Tank published in ‘Re-Side’ Issue 2

21 Oct

‘Blue Water Tank’ is a short prose piece from the Lacuna  manuscript which I am particularly fond of. It is a personal piece but one that I have always liked and I am so pleased that it has found a home in Re-Side Issue Two along with some other amazing work. ‘Blue Water Tank’ can, in some ways, be seen as a companion piece to ‘Place Burial’ which appeared in the  Ramon Loyola edited Issue 3 of Pink Cover Zine ( /2019/05/08/place-burial-appears-in-pink-cover-zine-issue-3/).

Re-Side is well worth a read. Have a look at issue two at

Poems on films – Le Quattro Volte: Cordite Issue 92

21 Sep

I have recently been writing a series of poems about films. The first of these, ‘Poems on films – Weekend – Jean-Luc Godard’ was published in The Tundish Review Issue 9 earlier this year. The second poem to find a home is ‘Poems on films – Le Quattro Volte – Michelangelo Frammartino’. I am particularly please that the editor of Cordite Issue 92, Claire Gaskin, found a place for this poem as the film on which it is based is particularly poetic and beautiful – something which I hope I have captured in this poem.


Cuplet #12: Martin Dolan, Kelly Norah Drukker, Mark Roberts & Anne Walsh

9 Jul


Looking forward to jumping in the car on Thursday and heading down the Mountains and then up to Newcastle to read at the monthly Cuplet Readings in Newcastle organised by Claire Albrecht.  It promises to be a great night of poetry and I am excited to be sharing the program with the following amazing poets:

  • MARTIN DOLAN is a Canberra-based poet. His second collection, Peripheral Vision, was published in 2018. His new collection is due for release in 2020. Martin is a PhD candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Canberra. He is a co-convener of That Poetry Thing, a weekly poetry night in Canberra.
  • KELLY NORAH DRUKKER (CANADA) was born in Montreal, and grew up in the Laurentian region of Quebec. Her first collection of poems, Small Fires, published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2016, won the A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, the Concordia University First Book Prize, and was a finalist for the Grand Prix du livre de Montréal. Kelly’s work has received a CBC Literary Award for Poetry (2006), and has appeared in journals in Canada, New Zealand, and Ireland. Petits feux, the French-language translation of Small Fires by Lori Saint-Martin and Paul Gagné, was published by Le lézard amoureux in 2018.
  • ANNE WALSH is a poet and a story writer whose work falls somewhere on the border of those two countries. Born in Philadelphia, she lives in Australia. Her poems have been shortlisted for the ACU Prize in Literature and twice for the Newcastle Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Cordite, Mascara, Canberra Times, Verity La, Poem and Dish, FemAsia, Not So Quiet, and her short story, The Rickman Digression, in Glimmer Train Press (U.S.). Her first collection of poems, I Love Like a Drunk Does, was published by Ginninderra Press (Australia, 2009). Her second book of poems, Intact, was published by Flying Islands Books (Australia, 2017).

Meanwhile I am dusting off a number of my Newcastle poems to read and might even throw in a few new ones.

Cuplet #12 will take place on Thursday, July 11, 2019 from 7:00 PM  at The Beaumont Hamilton 70 Beaumont Street Hamilton. If you are in the area it would be great to see you!


For further details go to

 – Mark Roberts


Reading in Canberra tonight with Marianne Boruch at That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Monday

3 Jun

After travelling down from the Blue Mountains last night through the Oberon Plateau, I woke in Canberra this morning looking forward to reading with Marianne Boruch at That Poetry Thing That Is On At Smith’s Every Monday  (7pm at Smith’s Alternative, 76 Alinga Street, Canberra). I will be reading poems from Concrete Flamingos as well as work from my new manuscripts. If you are in Canberra I would love to see you tonight!

For more details check out the Facebook event post:

‘Place Burial’ appears in ‘Pink Cover Zine’ Issue 3.

8 May

Last year I had the great pleasure of having my short prose piece ‘Place Burial’ appear in Issue 3 of Pink Cover Zine.  ‘Place Burial’ is from my manuscript Lacuna,  which is a collection based around the Central West of NSW. One of the bittersweet aspects of having this piece included in this issue was the interesting editorial discussion I had with the guest editor Ramon Loyola which resulted in an improved piece of writing appearing in the zine. Shortly after this discussion Ramon tragically died suddenly and, in many respects, my piece, and the issue as a whole, is a tribute to Ramon.

Pink Cover Zine Issue 3 is available as a free download at

Memories of ‘The Friend in Hand’ and Rae Desmond Jones

6 Feb

Last weekend Linda Adair and I attended a double book launch at the Friend in Hand pub in Glebe. Nothing too remarkable there, I have been to many book launches at the Friend in Hand, indeed my own book launch took place there ( But, as I listened to Margaret Bradstock launch Les Wick’s Belief and Anna Couani launch Kit Kelen’s  Poor Man’s Coat: Hardanger Poems, I had what is commonly referred to a flashback to the first launch Linda and I had organised at the Friend in Hand.

Back in late 2012 the launch of two Rochford Press books took place at the Friend in Hand, P76 Issue 6 (The Lost Issue) and The Selected Your Friendly Fascist edited by Rae Desmond Jones. Both these titles were nostalgic in their own right. Issue 6 of P76 had  been over 15 years in the making. Linda and I had created the original layout for the issue in the 1990s on an old Mac and then lost the disk in the confusion of babies and house moves, only to discover it years later in a box under the house. The Selected Your Friendly Fascist grew out of an article Rae Desmond Jones had written for Rochford Street Review on the magazine that he and John Edwards had edited and produced for many years “Lots of energy here, not much control”: Your Friendly Fascist – 1970 – 1984. Rae Desmond Jones remembers…... The article attracted much attention and reminiscing and a few months later I suggested to Rae that he might like to consider pulling together a “best of” YFF . At the time Rae was in hospital and I remember his initial response was “it would have to be called the Worst of”. Shortly after he returned home, however, I received a phone call “is 120 pages enough”.

As a result in October 2012 there was a large gathering of those of us who had survived being published in Your Friendly Fascist and/or P76. In my memory of that day the figure of Rae looms large against the red curtains of the upstairs bar of the Friend in Hand and, as I watched Les and Kit read from their new books last Saturday, I looked across at the corner near the stage where Rae had sat just over 6 years ago.

Of course the fact that I have spent the last 8 months or so working with Linda Adair, Narelle Adair, John Edwards and Ruth Saunders to bring Rae’s final collection of poetry into the world probably had a lot to do with that feeling. So I searched through some old photos and found Rae at the Friend in Hand, launching The Selected Your Friendly Fascist, back in October 2012. I suspect I will have the same feeling when we launch The End of the Line (Rae’s final collection) on Sunday 24 February at 1.30pm at the Exodus Foundation (The Burns Philip Hall) 180 Liverpool Road Ashfield.

Rae Desmond Jones carefully considers Alan Wearne’s launch speech for The Selected Your Friendly Fascist at The Friend in Hand Hotel, October 2012


Rae Desmond Jones in full flight at the launch of The Selected Your Friendly Fascist

Joanne Burns, Rae Desmond Jones and Joseph Chetcuti at the launch of The Selected Your Friendly Fascist, Friend in Hand Hotel, October 2012

The End of the Line by Rae Desmond Jones will be launched on Sunday 24 February at 1.30pm at the Exodus Foundation (The Burns Philip Hall) 180 Liverpool Road Ashfield. Facebook link

Copies of The End of Line can be purchased at