Tag Archives: Poetry

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.




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 (https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/03/16/decades-of-percolation-anna-couani-launches-concrete-flamingos-by-mark-roberts/). 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 https://www.facebook.com/events/242278270027993/

Copies of The End of Line can be purchased at https://rochfordpress.com/rochford-press-book-shop/

‘limestone’ published in ‘Communion Arts Journal’ Issue 8 December 2017

1 Jul

Windjana Gorge, WA

I haven’t sent much work out over the last 18 months or so but I was particularly pleased that one poem made it into print. Communion Arts Journal, edited and published by Ralph Wessman and Jane Williams out of Tasmania, has a long and proud history. As part of the Walleah Press stable it can trace it’s ancestry back to the wonderful Famous Reporter journal which was one of the important and long lived small press journals of the last 30 years (back in 2013 I reviewed the last issue of the Famous Reporter edited by Ralph Wessman for Rochford Street Review  https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2012/08/10/an-eclectic-tour-de-force-mark-roberts-reviews-famous-reporter-43/). Unlike The Famous Reporter Communion is an online journal but it shares with its forebear a commitment to powerful writing and a keen critical ear – something that makes being published by the journal doubly satisfying.

‘limestone’ is a very short poem but it took a long time to write. Over 25 years ago Linda Adair and I spent a few days in the Kimberley east of Broome. There was an ancient beauty to the landscape which spoke deeply of the history of country and, particularly at night when the Milky Way was almost bright enough to throw shadows,  it was easy to feel a connection stretching back eons. It was a feeling that demanded a poem, but it was one of those situations where the poetic strength of the moment swamped the ability of any words to record it. Gradually over two decades words came, Auden helped a little as did the threat posed to this ancient environment by the rise of the ugly right in Australia and around the world which would deny the value of such a link to country. Once you’ve read ‘limestone’ make sure you hang around and enjoy Communion – it is a valuable journal whihc deserves your support.





Poetic Journal: 20 December 2017: ‘Ha’penny Bridge.’

24 Dec

Day 4 of the journal – I observe the Christmas lights from one of the famous bridges across the Liffy.



The Liffy reflects back the Christmas lights
on Ha’penny Bridge forming an imperfect

oval. The river is as still as a mirror
yet the image is distorted slightly

on the southern side – a grimace
more than a smile. So perhaps

the opposite of a Dublin frown
is not complete happiness.



“I can be tight and nervy as the top string on a violin” appears in ‘Tincture’ Issue 17

9 Mar

I’m excited to find my short poem, “I can be tight and nervy as the top string on a violin”, which is based on a line from a Sylvia Plath short story, has found its way into the latest issue of Tincture (Issue 17).

Tincture is an unusual journal as it is available in ebook formats (EPUB and kindle) only, no print or on-line versions. There are, a number of advantages to this strategy, Tincture can produce a journal which is available for sale to anyone with an internet connection and a device running freely available software. It is also able to sell the journal, something which is difficult for most online journals running on blogging platforms. Finally it can sell each issue at a fraction of the cost of a compatible print version. By establishing a income stream Tincture is also able to pay its contributors, something all writers should appreciate. There is, of course, on the other hand the issue of accessibility. One can’t simply click on a link, or order a hard copy, and start reading. But all in all Tincture is a innovative concept in the Australian literary scene, which has been running for seventeen issues now, and which deserves our support.

If the fact that Issue Seventeen contains my poem isn’t enough to convince you to click on http://tincture-journal.com/buy-a-tincture/ and buy it, here is the table of contents for the issue:


Editorial, by Daniel Young
Some Days, by Rebecca Jessen
Moederland: Part One: I’m Not From Around Here, by Johannes Klabbers
Political Reflections: The Day Trump Won, by Alexandra O’Sullivan
The Need for Poetry, by Mindy Gill
Water Lily, by Douglas W. Milliken
Ethanol, Eschar, by Charlotte Adderley
WWJD? by Nathanael O’Reilly
Compass, by SJ Finn
Plum, Flower, by Eileen Chong
Shoes That Go Krtz-Krtz, by Tamara Lazaroff
Beach Road, by Thom Sullivan
Great Expectations, by Denis Fitzpatrick
Avid Reader, by Rosanna Licari
Running Away from the Circus, by Philip Keenan
Spider, by Ailsa Dunlop
From ‘Autobiochemistry’, by Tricia Dearborn
Our Mate, Cummo, by Dominic Carew
“I can be tight and nervy as the top string on a violin”, by Mark Roberts
Venus, by Grace Jervis
Last Post, by Aidan Coleman
Fighting for Breath, by Paul Threlfall
Combination Soup, by Pam Brown
You Are Cordially Invited, by Sean Gandert

So click away and you could be reading the latest Tincture in a matter of minutes!


‘outcomes’ and ‘cutting the grass’ appear in the November 2016 issue of ‘The Basil O’ Flaherty’

17 Nov

The Basil O’ Flaherty is an interesting newish on-line journal run out of the US by  J.K. Shawhan. In the best tradition of small literary journals it was established by a writer wanting to create outlets for the sort  of writing and artwork she was interested in – 30 years ago it would have been gestetnered or photocopied, these days it is a free online journal.

Along with its normal editions The Basil O’ Flaherty is also devoting sections to feminist poetry and poems in translations. It will be interesting to see how these sections develop over the coming months.

My two poems in the current edition can be found at http://thebasiloflaherty.weebly.com/mark-roberts.html. While you are there you can check the archives for my prose piece ‘red’ which was published in the first edition back in March 2016 http://thebasiloflaherty.weebly.com/archives5.html

‘Forgetting is So Long’ – Love Poetry by Australian Men

14 Oct

Forgetting is so Long: An Anthology of Australian Love Poetry edited by Robbie Coburn & Valli Poole. Blank Rune Press 2016


Love is so short, forgetting is so long.
………………………… – Pablo Neruda



When we think of anthologies were generally think of larger books with lots of pages so it was exciting to be asked to contribute to a chapbook anthology of Australian love poems. Some years ago I had some poems in the Inkerman & Blunt Australian Love Poetry anthology. That was a huge, diverse and ultimately uneven anthology (as anthologies of that size tend to be). Forgetting is so Long is the opposite – it is a small, beautifully constructed chapbook and it features love poems by men. When I was submitted my poems to Robbie Coburn I was unaware that the anthology would be purely love poems by men but I have been pleasantly surprised by the result and the company in which my two poems have landed. There is a hint here of a different masculinity, something that deserves to be explored in greater depth.

Along with my work Forgetting is so Long contains poetry by Ashley Capes, Robbie Coburn, Glenn Cooper, Phillip Hall, Ramon Loyola, Pete Spence, David Ellison, Andy Jackson, Ariel Riveros Pavez, Kenneth Smeaton and Les Wicks. It is available from Collected Works Bookshop in Melbourne or you can contact the publisher for details on how to acquire a copy blankrunepress@gmail.com