Jacket 17: The Hoax Issue

It’s hard to resist: Jacket 17, a hoax issue, with some of my favourite poets: the 1943 Australian hoax poet Ern Malley, John Ashbery (influenced by Ern Malley when an impressionable young man) and German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger — the Chancellor of Irony, the Goethe of our age and an old friend. And more.

Jacket 17 screen shot

As for Ern Malley: we have the 26-year-old Australian editor Max Harris with his original Introduction to the Ern Malley poems in «Angry Penguins» magazine, Autumn 1944, and Ern Malley — «The Complete Poems», and a precious gem: Ern Malley’s recently discovered Last Will and Testament. And John Thompson’s 1-hour radio documentary — «The Ern Malley Story», with the voices of all those involved in the hoax, made by the Australian Broadcasting Commission in 1959. And an excerpt from Michael Ackland’s «Damaged Men» “… one day it will be irrefutably proved that James McAuley and Harold Stewart were really figments of the imagination of the real-life Ern Malley and in fact never existed!”. And an excerpt from Michael Heyward’s «Indecent, Immoral, Obscene» — 60 pages dealing with the obscenity trial and the public crucifixion of Max Harris, from Michael Heyward’s book «The Ern Malley Affair». And the court typist’s transcript, in full, of the trial of Max Harris, an editor of «Angry Penguins» magazine, for the offence of publishing indecent advertisements. The trial was held in the Adelaide Police Court in September 1944. Mr Harris was convicted of the offence and fined. The original has 74 typed pages.

H.M.Enzensberger, Munich, 1984. Photo John Tranter.
H.M.Enzensberger, Munich, 1984. Photo John Tranter.

And… the bibliography from «Faking Literature» by Ken Ruthven: 25 pages of rare and hard-to-find source materials (including material relating to Ern Malley), and Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s “Poetry Machine”: A three-page Introduction to this poetry-writing computer is given in English; a twenty-page paper by Enzensberger explaining the theory and operation of the machine is published (in German): “Einladung zu einem Poesie-Automaten”.

And Catherine Daly on Marjorie Allen Seiffert and the “Spectra” Hoax, and Schuldt’s ironic piece “Homi Bhabha and the Forty Words”, and an off-site link to an electronic edition of the only extant number of «Free Grass» magazine, made up of HTML text and linked photographic images of the original printed pages. «Free Grass», a five page mimeographed magazine, splashed into the pond of little underground magazines in Australia in 1968. The editorial standards were loose, and there was a strong counter-cultural flavour to the thing. Strangest of all, it lived up to its title: it was literally free. But Free Grass had a secret…

But what are you waiting for: go there, and prosper!

Shameful admission: in late 2011 I closed down my end of «Jacket» magazine without making sure that the University of Pennsylvania had properly activated their links to the material. Silly me! As a result, the old issues were unreachable for a few weeks late in 2011 through to early in 2012. It was summer holiday time in Australia, when everybody goes to the beach and goes to sleep. Sorry!

Here it is: http://jacketmagazine.com/17/index.shtml

One Reply to “Jacket 17: The Hoax Issue”

  1. Ern Malley & the Free Grass Kids are but a number of Antipodean ‘hoax’ poets that have assembled themselves into what one might term ‘The School of Ern’. Think further more of Tasmania’s Timothy Kline, contributor to Tom Shapcott’s groundbreaking 1970 anthology ‘Australian Poetry Now’, or of the Singaporean born Chinese bi-sexual ratbag Billy Ah Lun, who would make regular, if grubby appearences in Rae Desmond Jones proto-zine ‘Your Friendly Fascist’, & of course my own favorite Toby Nicholson, whose life, career & a small section of work I have chronicled in ‘The Lovemakers’.

    Living a stoned life in a 60s Paddo Pad (a loft with ‘My ol’ lady, Sam, man’) poor Tobe would have given the great Dransfield a run for his money except, except as Forbes quite kindly put it ‘He lived like Dransfield but he wrote like Tipping.’

    Each year I give the Wollongong youngsters a lecture on this School of Ern, reminising how as a young poet I actually shared a joint one of the Free Grassers at a 1976 Adelaide Fringe, had Timothy Kline shout me a beer in some Hobart dive bar & of course heard Tobe declaim at Montaslvat.

    It seems a shame that I have to let the students into that little secret which truly makes these poets, poets, but then I introduce them to Senhors Pessoa, Ceiero, de Campos & Reis (hardly hoax poets since everyone was in on the hoax) et voila! heteronyms galore!

    Strange how with the exception of the Spectra lady & the odd female Free-Grasser, most of these, shall we say Target poets seem to be Young Men, with all the fabulous excesses of Young Manhood.

    Mind you there are allegedly a number of (if not heteromynic) pseudomynic young women in Kate Jennings’ wonderful ‘Mother I’m Rooted’ anthology whose initial author (so the legend goes) was male…who?

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