Tag Archives: Poetry

‘self evacuation’ and ‘charcoal drawing’ published in ‘From the Ashes: A poetry collection in support of the 2019-2020 Australian Bushfire relief effort’

15 Mar

The last few months have certainly been challenging. Fires, floods and now plague. Already we have seen the offers of support and funding made to those impacted by the Morrison fires of 2019/2020 forgotten and people and the environment abandoned as we are overtaken by the next crisis. In such an environment it is important to remember and to make our leaders remember the commitments they made. This is one of the reasons I am proud to have two poems in the anthology  From the Ashes: A poetry collection in support of the 2019-2020 Australian Bushfire relief effort edited by C.S. Hughes and published by Maximum Felix Media.

My two poems in the anthology, ‘self evacuation’ and ‘charcoal drawing’, are raw poems, written with the memory of a summer of fire, smoke and danger in the Blue Mountains. My thanks to the editor, C.S. Hughes for including them in the collection.


As Hughes says in the introduction to the anthology:

It has been a season of fire and flood. It is not that we are unfamiliar, in our dry and storm driven land, with such seasons, but these elements, perhaps through our ignorance and neglect, have burgeoned and magnified, returned on a scale that seems unimaginable.

Hundreds of homes have been lost, nearly two score lives. Each given in defence of what we all value, home, family and thus each life lost in defence of us all. Before such an onslaught, it is only by fickle winds and fortunate rains that the destruction has not been more overwhelming.

From the Ashes: A poetry collection in support of the 2019-2020 Australian Bushfire relief effort is available from https://fromtheashes.maximumfelixmedia.com/. Proceeds from the sale of the anthology will go to support the ongoing care of Australia’s native wildlife through selected charities and wildlife organisations.

‘Read On 3’ in the quiet carriage

29 Jan


It’s not often you get to read a journal which contains a poem you wrote about a train in the very train you wrote it about! But that was the unique experience I recently had while reading the Pete Spence edited Read On 3 on the way back up the mountains.

There is an extraordinary amount of great work by amazing writers in this issue and it is an honour to be included among them: Mark Young, Francesca Jurate Sasnaitis, Tim Wright, Julia Knobloch, Sheila E. Murphy, Barbara Henning, Louis Armand, Don Yorty, Tom Weigel, John Jenkins, Gig Ryan, Douglas Messerli, Alan Jefferies, Joanna Walkden Harris, Pete Spence, Pam Brown, Jenn Knickerbocker & Jake St. John, Kris Hemensley and Greg Masters.

In addition to my train poem ‘6.02pm to Mt Victoria’ Read On 3 contains another of my Blue Mountains poems ‘climbing’ together with 2 more of my film poems – one based on Le Redoutable directed by Michael Hazanavicius (2017) and the other on Le Gai Savoir, Jean-Luc Godard 1969.

Read On 3 is published by Pete’s Press, Donnithorne Street Press and available directly from him – I believe he can be found on Facebook.

‘Returns’ published in Rabbit 29.

22 Jan

Rabbit is a journal for nonfiction poetry – a genre I find intriguing. The concept of “nonfiction poetry” makes me examine my creative process, where my poetry comes from, the illusion and reality as Christopher Cauldwell might say.  I realised that much of my work is grounded in my attempted understanding of my environment, of where I am, the history and politics that surrounds me and which has shaped me over the years – a history and politics that is sometimes hidden.

The theme for Rabbit 29 was ‘Lineages’, a word that could be interpreted in many ways  – creative lineages, personal lineages, family lineages and so on. I had been working on a sequence of poems that grew out of two recent trips I had taken to Ireland and these poems seem to fit the lineage theme very well. The sequence was called ‘Returns’ and is based around the notion of returning to a heritage and country that my family left a number of generations ago. My mother’s side of my family is predominately Irish, most of them having left Ireland for Australia in the years between 1850 and 1880, driven out by famine and persecution by the English. I grew up with my grandparents stories of Ireland, though they had never left Australia they had a vivid memory of place handed down to them through their parents. The 1916 Uprising had a profound impact on my grandfather and even 50 years later he talked of it with a passion.

‘Returns’ captures fragments of that history, my personal journey, the remembered/imagined journey of my ancestors and visiting places strong in a family memory passed down through generation. It is one of my lineages.

My thanks to editor Jessica L Wilkinson and guest editors for this issue Chi Tran and Matthew Hall. It is exciting to be included in such a strong collection of work.

Rabbit 29 is available from http://rabbitpoetry.com/?product_cat=journals

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.