Black Gold, Chapter 08

Chapter 08 — Patched Up
… In which Paul Nouveau has his bruised cheek fixed by the application of Goanna Salve, by Doctor Bell. He and Frank walk to the gate in the mooonlight, and talk some more.

Paragraph One follows — 1:

‘This salve is guaranteed to destroy any microbes,’ Bell said, ‘and to — ah — counter the malign influences of the planets. Julie, would you — would you hold the lamp over this way — thank you.’ He scooped some ointment from the jar with a butter knife. ‘I’ve sterilised the knife. Now — ah — hold still — there.’ He daubed the ointment onto the red welt on Paul’s cheek. Julie winced in sympathy; Paul flinched.

2:

‘Ah, did that hurt?’

3:

Paul gritted his teeth. ‘No, no. It — it stings, just a little.’

4:

The doctor taped a gauze bandage over the bruise. Paul noticed a slight tremor in his touch. ‘People say it should hurt, if it’s going to do any — do any good, but I think that’s dangerously close to the — close to the Manichean heresy.’

5:

‘What kind of bush remedy is this?’ Paul asked. He picked up the jar: there was a picture of a lizard on the label. ‘Goanna Salve? What is it? Is it from boiling lizards?’

6:

Bell smiled. ‘It’s either a salve for sick goannas, or one manufactured by them.’

7:

‘Goannas? And what is this?’

8:

‘A kind of lizard,’ Frank said. ‘As big as a dog.’

The Perentieis, Australia’s largest goanna.

9:

‘A dog?’

10:

Frank laughed. ‘Sure, pal. They have a reputation for mistaking people for trees. Or so they tell me. In grassy country they’ll run up your back and stand on your head to get a good look around. It can frighten you half to death, but apparently they’re harmless.’

11:

Bell laughed. ‘The — ah — the blacksmith down by the river was out hunting kangaroos one day, and a goanna ran up his back. They have — they have huge claws, for digging and climbing trees. Old Joe had no idea — no idea what had attacked him, and he let out a scream, dropped his gun, and bolted for home. The fellows in the back bar of the Criterion Hotel were laughing about it for weeks.’ He lowered his voice. ‘Ah — how’s that now?’

12:

‘You could say it was painful.’

13:

‘Good. They — ah — they don’t guarantee the treatment to make the face any more handsome, mind you. Just healthier.’

14:

‘Healthier will be good.’ Paul touched his face carefully. There were no broken bones, but his jaw was swollen and tender. ‘You seem quite practised at this kind of work. Of course in Wagga, people attack one another at any opportunity.’

15:

‘Hey, why don’t I put on a jug of coffee?’ Frank suggested.

16:

‘We got some fresh coffee the other day,’ Julie said. ‘Here, I’ll show you where it is.’ They went off into the kitchen.

17:

‘You might like to — ah — warm up that pigeon pie if you’re hungry,’ Bell called. ‘The stove is alight.’

18:

‘I am sorry this fight happened,’ Paul said. ‘Julie is upset now. I hope I have not spoiled her engagement.’ He could hear her talking companionably with Frank in the kitchen. He looked downcast, and Bell smiled to himself.

19:

‘Perhaps Stern might — um — might apologise tomorrow,’ Bell said. ‘This sort of thing has happened before. Yes.’ He put the liniment away in a cupboard. ‘He has an unfortunate temper. I’m sure he — ah — regrets what he did.’

20:

‘Oh, if you will excuse me to say this, but I think he enjoyed what he did. Oh, never mind.’ Paul shook his head, and the pain made him wince again. ‘It will be a further piece of gossip for the landlady of Frank.’

21:

Bell smiled. ‘Miss Mackenzie? She’s not — ah — not such an old dragon really. I knew her at Cambridge.’

22:

‘Cambridge? At the university?’

23:

‘Some of us in the colonies have a decent education, Paul. Would you — ah — would you like a drink? A medicinal brandy?’

24:

‘Thank you, yes.’

University of Cambridge, Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.

25:

Bell took a stoneware jug from a cupboard. ‘Yes, I met her once or twice. She took — ah — Classics, I think it was.’ He poured two generous drinks. ‘This was at a time when it was difficult for women to attend the university. Cheers.’

26:

À la vôtre,’ said Paul. ‘So there is someone in Wagga for you to talk to.’ The brandy burned his stomach and the warmth spread through his veins very pleasantly.

27:

‘Oh, there are a few, actually. The chemist’s a bit quirky, you know, but he is — ah — well-informed about politics. And there’s Fred Dobbs at the Joint Stock Bank, he’s active in the School of Arts Library, helping to get a book, a book club together. And of course I have my own books. Indeed. And I have my — my research.’ He looked into his glass, and swirled the drink.

28:

Paul looked at him.

29:

‘There’s so much to learn, you see. I think of — I think of Da Vinci sometimes: an artist, but a scientist too. Yes. Science at a certain level can be like — like an art.’

30:

‘It goes hand-in-hand with industry and with profit. Surely the factory is the temple of science in the modern world.’

31:

‘Well, yes, I admit there is a kind of science that’s really engineering, or industrial chemistry, you might call it, that panders to the mill owners, just as there is a kind of art that is merely decoration. But — but what’s wrong with that? And that, that doesn’t mean that the Mona Lisa was painted as an expensive wall-hanging. It has a — it has a soul. You could say.’

32:

‘What are you researching now?’

33:

‘Now? Well, I’m beginning to explore the science of photography now. Yes, photography. Do you know anything about it?’

34:

‘No,’ Paul said. ‘I had a photograph made when I was — eleven, I think. With my brother Frédéric; it was our première communion. You wouldn’t believe how I looked.’ He laughed. ‘Not like now, beaten and covered with bandages. But photography can not say anything new, it can never surprise you. It can tell you one thing, what is in front of the machine. That is all.’

35:

‘It may not speak the truth about people, but it — ah — it speaks the truth about appearances. You can photograph a crowd of people, and count every face. Every one.’

36:

‘Yes,’ Paul said with a touch of sarcasm in his voice, ‘the Paris police have been quick to use this thing, for the identification of criminals. What kind of art can it be, I wonder, this art that the Paris police embrace so fervently?’

Mug shot of prisoner in the 1870s.

37:

‘I know that the painters, yes, they are horrified by the accuracy of the photograph,’ agreed Bell. ‘They fear — ah — they fear it will supplant painting altogether. It has already, for portraits. Yes. Except for colour, of course. That’s a problem, a fascinating one. How do you capture colour?’ Bell stared into the distance, his eyes unfocussed, his collar undone. He’d raised his glass to drink, but the puzzle of colour photography had struck him in all its complexity, and the glass remained suspended in the air.

38:

Paul had a brief vision of Bell toiling in his basement laboratory night after night, out of touch with the latest developments in England and Europe, unshaven, his equipment out of date, exploring one blind alley after another.

39:

Frank was standing quietly at the door. ‘Well, Paul, old buddy, if you’re okay now, I shall be going.’

40:

‘Yes, I am okay now. I shall walk with you to the gate.’ He got up from his chair, wincing again as his bruised stomach muscles pulled against his weight. For a moment he felt old and tired and defeated, like a man drowning at the bottom of a well. He took a deep breath and shook himself. ‘The lizard ointment was good, Doctor. And the brandy.’

41:

Crickets were making a faint chirping noise in the grass as the two men walked down the path to the gate. The strange stars glittered against a sky that was the colour of blued steel. The stars of the Southern Cross had slowly wheeled across the heavens, and lay tilted now against a low hill in the west. A dog barked, a long way off. Frank put his arm around Paul’s shoulder. ‘I’m sorry your first night in Wagga turned out so badly.’

42:

Paul winced. ‘I have been beaten, remember?’

43:

‘Sorry.’ Frank took his arm away.

44:

‘Oh, it is not so bad here. It is all an adventure, is it not? I have met characters more dangerous than this Stern, and suffered worse treatment at their hands.’ He could smell Frank’s sweat, blended with the scent of his skin.

45:

‘You know, Paul,’ Frank said, ‘there’s an innocence about this country, and yet there’s an undercurrent of something else — anger, almost. It’s like the American West, in a way. It seems there’s some kind of smoke or drug in the air we breathe here, that causes people to quarrel.’

46:

‘Perhaps it is a curse. Perhaps there’s a spirit who hates the British invaders.’

Preparing to kill.

47:

‘Maybe it’s the ghosts of the blacks they killed. Some bad things happened here.’ They paused at the end of the path, and Frank leaned on the gate. In the distance a night bird gave a long, strangled cry. ‘I sometimes had that feeling back in the States. We had our Civil War, it finished only a decade ago; it tore the country in half. I lost two uncles. I can just remember them: they were decent men, yet they went off to kill other Americans, and in the end they were killed by their own countrymen. Maybe the spirits of the Indians we robbed of their land had caused it to happen. Perhaps their medicine men placed a curse on us, so we’d tear each other to pieces in a frenzy of madness.’

48:

‘Yes, I have read about America,’ said Paul.

49:

‘And yet there’s an optimism in America that you don’t find here,’ Frank said.

50:

‘Certainly. Every poor European wishes to go there and to find gold, or to grow some wheat on the prairie and to become like a rich farmer. Optimism is easy in such a country. Australia is different, I think. It was a hard place full of misery to all those criminals and prisoners and convicts who built the roads and buildings.’

51:

Frank plucked a stalk of dry grass from near his feet, and stripped the leaves from it. ‘Sometimes I think there’s nothing here. It’s all desert from one side of the continent to the other, two thousand miles of nothing. You can starve to death, in the centre of Australia. They’ve cultivated the laconic mode as a way of avoiding all those melancholy reflections. Ask an American how he’s doing, and he’ll answer “Fine, fine!” An Australian? “Not so bad,” he’ll say.’ Frank gave a dry laugh.

52:

‘And why did you come to this place?’ Paul asked. ‘For the gold? To escape from the law? You don’t seem the law-breaking type to me.’

53:

Frank gave a little laugh, and was silent for a while. ‘Right, pal. I jumped ship, but I’m no outlaw,’ he said eventually. ‘I had to get out, that’s all. I had to break away from Boston. After my Dad died, the business — I just had to get away. Maybe if Elizabeth — my wife — maybe if she had lived, things might have turned out differently.’ He thought to himself for a while. ‘We had one good year together. That’s something, I suppose.’

54:

Paul looked at him closely; Frank was staring at the moonlit horizon, his jaw muscles working.

55:

Paul let the silence hang for a while. ‘I know that — that feeling,’ he said, ‘that emptiness. It is like taking an iron ball and chain from off your leg, and walking away. Society, it loses its grip on you, and you walk through the crowds like a man who is invisible.’

56:

They said nothing more for a while, each lost in his own thoughts.

57:

‘Something about these starlit nights,’ Frank said at last. ‘They encourage philosophy. Maybe Australia will breed a nation of philosophers. Well, I’ve been talking your head off, here, and it’s way past midnight. I must be going.’ He opened the gate and put his hand on Paul’s shoulder. ‘Good night, Paul. For a man who’s had the shit beaten out of him, you look all right. I hope you feel better in the morning.’

58:

Paul managed a smile. ‘Thank you, Frank. Good night.’
 
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Black Gold, Chapter 06

Chapter 06 — Jimmy Skylark
… In which Paul Nouveau strolls to to the Advertiser office and meets Jimmy Skylark again, this time sorting type, who tells him the story of his uncle the police tracker and Kadjuk the black warrior. Frank and the proprietor, Luther Quoign, who has a wall eye, come back from the Agricultural Show, and Paul tells again how he killed the bushrangers. He accepts a drink of rum from Quoign.

Paragraph One follows — 1:

Lamps were being lit one by one in the shops and houses. As Paul strolled through the streets he had a glimpse through a lamplit window, and then another, of the intimate life of the town — a woman in long white sleeves was taking a roast from the oven; in the yellow light of another window a man smoked a pipe contentedly, and from inside the house someone played a hymn on a harmonium. The sound swelled and flowed onto the evening air, as sweet as honey, and it seemed to Paul with the same dark amber colouring.

2:

He walked on, turning aside to follow the long shadow under the trees that marked the course of the river with the peculiar guttural name: Murrumbidgee. The evening felt homely and familiar — the scale and the colours were different, but Paul was surprised how similar it was to a spring evening in northern France.

3:

Fires were being lit in stoves and fireplaces; people were returning home from their day’s work. There was the same warm feeling that made him homesick; the same empty bored feeling that made him irritable. And there was the dance tonight: perhaps for once he would shine and have an adventure or two, perhaps he would be noticed and admired. He owned a gleaming new revolver; he had killed two savage outlaws: people would be talking about him. Good.

4:

A grey-blue cloud of woodsmoke from the various chimneys had gathered in the dusk and now hung in the air. It seemed to follow the path of the river, floating on a faint breeze, but barely moving. It appealed to him as a metaphor for the way Bell and his daughter had settled into the habits and movements of the town, drifting into a pattern of association that had the same kind of half-conscious meaning as the smoke wavering on an air current or the water flowing along the stream bed.

5:

A sailor on the Trade Winds had told him an old Chinese saying: water is the most powerful force because it has no will of its own, but obeys the irresistible will of nature. It its ancient way, water wears down mountains. But is nature the same at the bottom of the planet, he wondered. Here the rivers ran the wrong way inland from the coast, even the trade-winds that drove the clouds and the seasons flowed counter to the proper way of things.

6:

He took his pipe from his pocket and lit it, and leaned on the railing of the bridge to smoke for a while. The water flowing below was muddy and swift; wide enough and deep enough for paddle steamers to come up from the coast. A gust of wind ruffled his hair, and he looked up at the dark foliage of the trees that crowded along the banks of the stream.

7:

During his high school years his mother had moved to an apartment on the Quai de la Madeleine overlooking the river. While he was supposed to be doing his Latin homework he had spent many hours staring out the window at the trees that grew along the river bank and the dark woods on the opposite shore.

8:

Paul went on to the Advertiser office, but Frank wasn’t there. A young woman with a severe expression guarded the front room. She looked up from her account books and sniffed. ‘I think they’ve gone off to the Agricultural Society,’ she said. ‘You could ask Jimmy Skylark. He’s in the shop, back in there somewhere.’ She went back to her figures.

Woman writing. Source: Gerard ter Borch the Younger [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. From the internet.

9:

In the silent room the nib made a faint scratching sound. Paul paused for a moment to listen. Something about the mood of the moment — the failing evening light, the faint odour of woodsmoke in the air, the pen’s monotonous whispering — caused a wave of homesickness to wash through him. How many quiet lamplit evenings had he spent accompanied by the patient scratching of a nib on paper? There was a sense of pleasure and contentment in the memory, but also a sense of loss, of something spent and forfeited, as though he had long ago abandoned and forsworn such a life and no longer deserved its rewards. People didn’t think highly of you for being good, they took advantage of it instead, and no one cared if your handwriting was clear or if your conversation was full of clever insights.

10:

The young woman looked up suspiciously. He shook himself and went through to the back of the building.

11:

Paul expected to find Jimmy washing another horse in the gloom of the yard, but instead he was sorting through a box of metal type under a hanging kerosene lamp in the main printing shop. A sandy-coloured pup played around at his feet.

12:

‘Mister Frank? He’s gone over to the Showground,’ Jimmy said. ‘He and the boss, they have a lot of things to do, what with writing up the names of all the competitors in the various events, and to see that the name of the prize bull is spelled correctly, and all that kind of thing. Now I have to sort out this case of old type that Mister Frank brought back from Sydney. Oh well.’

13:

He smiled at Paul, and his teeth flashed a startling white in the black features. His large eyes regarded Paul steadily: they seemed to have a slight film of tears, and the effect gave them a peculiar gleam. ‘Do you have Agricultural Shows where you come from, Mr Nouveau?’

14:

‘Well, we have fêtes, and we have market days, but perhaps they are not quite the same,’ Paul said. ‘I do not understand the Agricultural Show, really.’ He was still somewhat ill at ease in Jimmy’s company. He had read many books and articles about the South Seas as a child, and he reflected that many people would share his assumption that the Australian aborigines were clumsy savages; it was a surprise for him to find one with such easy manners, so absorbed among the skills of printing.

15:

Paul picked up a handful of type: each piece was about the size of a large nail with a square shank, with a tiny back-to-front letter standing out in relief on the end. ‘They are beautiful,’ he said; ‘like jewels. So — so exquisitely cut to such a small shape.’

Printing Press. From the internet.

16:

‘Me, I couldn’t cut a letter to save my life. I can compose a line of type, though, and lay out a page and lock up the forme real neat ready for the press.’

17:

Paul was little confused by the technical talk, and by the sight of Jimmy handling the type with such ease and confidence. Click, click: the pieces of metal were sorted into their pigeon-holes in the wooden type case. ‘Mind you,’ Jimmy added, ‘hyphenation is not my strong point.’

18:

He wore the same faded blue canvas shirt and overalls that he’d been wearing in the stable yard, but now he had added a pair of steel-rimmed spectacles. It was hard to tell his age, but he must have been at least forty or so, to need the glasses. The pup tugged at his trouser cuff, and growled with mock ferocity. Jimmy reached down to pat the dog, and spoke a few words to it in a low voice.

19:

‘That is a nice dog,’ Paul said.

20:

‘Well, he’s nice enough, but by rights he’s not a dog at all. That’s a warrigal pup,’ Jimmy said. ‘They’re obstinate, like me.’

21:

‘Obstinate? You seem an amiable man.’

22:

Jimmy grunted. ‘You ain’t seen me drunk. I’m not so amiable then. Fair warning.’

23:

‘I can get somewhat disorderly myself, with a few drinks on board. Do you work here? I thought you worked at the stables.’

24:

‘I work here from time to time,’ Jimmy said. ‘They might drag me in to help out now and then, when Mister Quoign’s too drunk to compose type straight, or when they’re short-handed. I don’t mind the work, but after a while I get sick of it, cooped up in a room all the day long. Otherwise I prefer working with animals, in the open air. You know, in Sydney I’m treated like a wild black man. Even here, where I’m known to some townsfolk as a friend, I’m not really welcome in many places. I’m betwixt and between, where nobody wants to live.’

25:

‘You have your own life, though, where you belong, apart from the farmers and shopkeepers of this town. You have your own people. You can always go back to that.’

26:

Jimmy looked at him for a moment. ‘Huh,’ he said. ‘So much you know, but forgive me for thinking that you know very little. My people? They are scattered. All the old knowledge is gone. If things had been left the way they were, I should have been a teacher of my people; at least the boys. But things changed. My people changed.’

27:

‘What would you have taught them? Reading and writing? Printing, perhaps?’

28:

‘Printing? No. More important things than that. There were stories I should have learned from my grandfather, about my tribe the Wiradjuri, about the Dreaming, about how the hills around Wagga Wagga came to be the way they are, about how certain spirits came to look after my tribe and protect them.’

29:

‘What spirits do you mean? The ghosts of your ancestors?’

30:

‘No, the spirits are not like that. My guardian spirits are an old warrigal and a spotted owl. They appear in times of danger. It was my duty to learn these things and many other things from the old men, and to pass them on to the boys, so the land could be cared for in the proper way. But my people were struck down, they got white man’s sickness, and they were scattered, and my father took me to Sydney, and before I was able to come back to this place I ended up learning this stuff which no one needs to know, and which I am useless to teach.’ He put down the type.

31:

‘But printing,’ Paul said, ‘it lasts. People may die, yes; the white people, they die, but the things they have learned, these things, they — they live on, in these printed books.’

32:

Jimmy looked out through the doorway at the lights along the street. ‘See that Police Court across the street there? That kind of justice the white man brought here, he brought it with him and imposed it on us from above. It comes out of those books that were written and printed in Britain where they hang people by the neck, many thousands of miles away. The judges have their law books, and the policemen have their statute books too. My father’s brother, he joined the Native Police. He had a different learning; he didn’t have any of that book learning. He was a tracker.’

33:

‘Tracker?’

34:

‘My people can track things through the bush; that’s how you find your food, the animals you have to hunt and catch to eat. Those animals, they bruise the grass where they disturb the land. A black man or woman can read the land just like a white judge can read a book of law. He can track another man through the bush just as easy. A black man can track things you can’t even see.’ Jimmy looked at Paul for a minute or two.

35:

‘I shall tell you a story,’ he said at last, ‘You think you know everything about black people. Well, you don’t know so much. The black man is different to the white man in this country. My uncle was a police tracker, and one time he was sent to track down a bad man, a blackfellow by the name of Kadjuk. This Kadjuk, he fell in love with a girl from another tribe, his cousin, but she was wrong sign, wrong totem, wrong everything, and besides, she was promised to another man. Kadjuk should have listened to his elders, but he got a bad spirit in him and he didn’t listen to anybody. He wanted this girl for himself, and he was selfish.’

36:

Jimmy took his glasses off and wiped them with a handkerchief. He looked at Paul again gravely with his large watery eyes, perhaps considering whether he was the proper kind of person to hear the story, then nodded slightly to himself, and went on:

37:

‘Kadjuk, he was a strong man, a warrior, and he got some magic. Nobody knows where he got the magic from; it was some crooked kind of magic he got from his bad spirit, a spirit from some other place, not from here. He roamed about, he roamed away from his own tribe, and he got this magic and it made the girl fall in love with him; she followed him everywhere. He took her away, and when her brother came to take her back, Kadjuk killed him with a spear, and he took the girl away into the eastern country, a long way into the high country where our people don’t usually go, and where they don’t belong.

38:

‘So the police came out and fetched my uncle to track this Kadjuk fellow, and they went off together into the bush, and two white policemen rode along with him all the while with their guns loaded and ready. That was a cold time, my uncle told me, plenty of snow up there on the hills, and those whitefellers got sick with the cold, but they kept on.

39:

‘By and by my uncle realised he was tracking in a big circle three day’s journey around the outside of it, so that Kadjuk was tracking him now. My uncle told the policemen that Kadjuk was wheeling around in this unusual manner, but they didn’t take any account of that: they had their horses and their guns, and a black man on foot meant nothing to them. So my uncle did what he was told and kept his counsel. They travelled on, around and about. Then one morning my uncle woke up and he knew that he was alone.’

40:

Jimmy paused here and stared at the floor for a while, and gathered his thoughts. The dingo pup had gone to sleep against his foot; a front paw twitched slightly as he dreamed of chasing something. Jimmy gave a deep sigh, and went on.

Native Police, 1889. From the internet.

41:

‘So, on this cold, dark morning my uncle woke up and he knew he was alone there in the bush. The mist was so thick you couldn’t see a thing. He went to the policemen’s tent and looked in. Well, it was a bad thing he saw there in that tent. Kadjuk had come up in the night and he’d cut their throats with a sharp knife. But he’d left my uncle alone; my uncle’s brother was an elder of the same clan and Kadjuk was forbidden to kill him, and even his evil spirit couldn’t make him break that law.

42:

‘My uncle went after him in earnest then, and caught up with him in two days. Kadjuk was thinking to cross the big river there so his tracks would be washed away, but my uncle saw him a long way off, on a high place above the water, and he took a shot at him with the policeman’s gun.’

43:

‘Did he kill him?’

44:

‘Kadjuk and the girl, they were standing there together on a ledge making up their mind to jump down into the river; it flowed fast and deep at that place, and plenty cold in the winter. The mist was blowing through the valley, and the wind was chasing it along. My uncle was freezing and shaking with the cold and the wet, so it wasn’t easy to make a good shot there, but he leaned the rifle against the branch of a tree to steady his aim, and that’s where he shot at them. Well, they went down together into the water, and no one ever saw them again, coming or going, in the eastern bush or anywhere else. My uncle went across to see, and there was blood on the rock where they had stood, so he knew he’d hit one of them, the man or the girl, he couldn’t say. But how hard the bullet hit them, or what happened to them after that, no one can tell you.’ He thought for a moment, then said: ‘Maybe that bad spirit came and took his magic back, and took them with it.’

45:

There was a long silence; Jimmy picked up the last few pieces of type and sorted them. ‘That’s it,’ he said, and placed a cloth over the type box. ‘Mister Frank, he’s back, and the boss.’ He called his pup, and without saying anything more, left through a side door.

46:

Paul went into the front office. Frank and the proprietor, Luther Quoign, had just come in; Frank introduced Paul, and Quoign shook his hand. His handshake felt odd, and Paul noticed that two of his fingers were missing.

47:

Frank handed Paul a parcel. ‘This should fit you,’ he said. ‘Julie seemed determined that you should go to the Ball, and she’s not easily put off. And you met Doctor Bell?’

48:

‘Oh yes. I thought to find practical people here in the bush, but Doctor Bell is the other type, a dreamer. His head is full of daydreams. Some of these dreams are inspired, I think, and some have cracks in them.’

Gold minehead and gold miners, Hill End-Tambaroora, Australia, ca. 1870. From the internet.

49:

‘They’re an odd mixture in this colony,’ Quoign put in. ‘The country people here, they can mend a steam tractor or a broken printing press with a piece of fencing wire. Then they’ll sit up all night around a pot of tea arguing about the rights of the working class and reciting ballads. There’s a lot of the Irish in them, I think that’s what it is.’

50:

Frank laughed. ‘Bejesus,’ he said. ‘It’s no wonder I feel at home here, then.’

51:

Quoign was a tall, pale-skinned man with curly dark hair, and a strangely gentle manner. While he was speaking he seemed to be looking over Paul’s shoulder at someone standing just behind him. Paul felt a shiver go down his spine — was there someone there? He was about to turn and check when he realised that Quoign had a wall eye, or perhaps a glass eye. One eye was looking at him steadily, the other looked off to the side.

52:

‘Frank’s done up a story about the bushrangers, Mr Nouveau,’ Quoign said. ‘We’ll print it in the paper. What you did was remarkable.’

53:

‘Remarkable? No, I do not think that.’

54:

‘Come on, shooting two armed men like that — Woolcott and Heeney were desperate characters; between them they’d killed six men, including two police officers. How on earth did you manage it?’

55:

‘Well, I do not understand that. I think they were not expecting anyone to fire at them.’

56:

‘That’s right,’ Frank said. ‘The coach was half empty; we weren’t carrying any gold, and there was no police escort. It must have looked like an easy job.’

57:

‘And they were carrying rifles,’ Paul said. ‘In close combat a pistol is easier to handle and faster to use. Once I fired the first shot the horses reared back. The young man was dead by then. I’d hit him in the chest, and it’s a large calibre bullet. And then — and then the second shot got him in the face.’

58:

‘Jesus Christ,’ said Quoign, and took an involuntary step back.

59:

‘And the other man, he needed one hand to control the horse, and it’s not easy to aim and fire a rifle with the other hand.’ Paul licked his lips; the scene was playing itself out again. He could hear the sound of the shots, loud and yet distant. Someone was screaming.

60:

Quoign’s good eye looked him over carefully. ‘That’s strong meat,’ he said, ‘for a young feller like you. Blowing a hole in a man’s chest. The second shot must have just about taken his head off. It didn’t upset you?’

61:

‘What are you talking about? I trained with guns, I can handle a revolver. I can handle myself.’

62:

‘Sure,’ Quoign said. ‘Sure you can.’

63:

There was an awkward pause. Quoign took a bottle from a cupboard and picked up three tumblers with his crooked hand. ‘I’ll tell you what,’ he said, ‘I was just going to have a glass of rum. Would you gentlemen care to join me?’

A glass of rum. From the internet.

64:

‘Yes,’ Paul said. ‘I should like to join you with a glass of rum.’
 
[»»] Back to the Contents page

Michael Dransfield, reviewed by Tranter, 1987

John Tranter reviews Michael Dransfield — Collected Poems

edited by Rodney Hall, University of Queensland Press, pb, $14:95. This review was first published in the Weekend Australian 21–22 November 1987. It is 800 words or about two printed pages long. At the end of this piece, I offer some 2013 second thoughts.

‘Whatever his faults, Michael Dransfield did write some wonderful lyric poems; his abundant talent and his generosity of spirit shine through them.”

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Paragraph 1:

Michael Dransfield died in 1973, at the age of 24. He had lived hard and fast, and he died young.

02:

      In this Collected Poems Rodney Hall has produced a useful book — it gathers in the one volume a generous selection of the many poems Michael left.

03:

      Too generous, some might say. Like many poets of his generation, he seldom revised, and much of his output was tenuous, to put it politely.

04:

      Most of his writing revolves around two romantic fantasies. One was ‘Courland Penders’, which he invented as an ancestral homestead (he actually grew up in the suburbs of Sydney.) He posed himself among its fake Pre-Raphaelite scenery as an ailing heir, the last member of a noble family, inscribing poems with a crystal quill as the candles guttered and cobwebs gathered around him.

05:

      This fondness for dressing-up was common in the pop culture of the late 60s; the Beatles and the Rolling Stones grew their hair long, wore velvet and drank from silver goblets at that time.

06:

      His other fantasy world was built on drugs. Some of his friends believe he exaggerated his drug-taking; it seems to me that his early ‘drug poems’ are often based on an almost journalistic misunderstanding of the difference between a poem written through drugs and a poem written about drugs.

07:

      At the same time, he didn’t seem to want to examine his romanticism too closely, in case he found it was phoney. And of course it is — romanticism was selected, rewarded and mediated by bourgeois art-consumers as an aesthetic counterbalance to the industrial revolution that gave them their money and their power. There’s nothing ‘romantic’ about that.

08:

      In 1970 Tom Shapcott published his opinion that Michael was ‘terrifyingly close to genius’. Michael’s peeved and cynical friends immediately labelled him ‘the near-miss’. It was clear that he had talent; but how close was he to ‘genius’?

09:

      The late 60s was a time of upheaval, and the new work of the younger writers was often hard for older people to come to terms with. Michael’s easy popularity with older poets — Shapcott, Hall, David Campbell and Geoffrey Dutton, among others — does need some explanation. Auden’s cutting line ‘the poetry he invented was easy to understand’ is not inappropriate here. In a way, Michael satisfied a need for rebelliousness without frightening anybody too badly.

10:

      And though the subject-matter of much of Michael’s writing was ‘counter-cultural’, the forms he worked with were not new or revolutionary; he used the loose free verse he found lying to hand around him, and did nothing radical with it.

11:

      His poems were mostly written quickly, revised little, and short — they average less than a page long. And they are all ‘easy to understand.’ This points to a peculiar laziness of spirit in a poet supposedly so adventurous, when his friends were busy demolishing and rebuilding their poetic technique in quite drastic ways. Robert Adamson’s ‘The Rumour’ and Martin Johnston’s ‘The Blood Aquarium’ — both huge, heavily worked and difficult poems — were never matched in scope or technical daring by Dransfield; as far as I know he avoided the structural problems of the long poem.

12:

      And his inability to answer the quick intelligence of Ashbery or O’Hara convincingly, as two small poems in this book demonstrate, is also instructive.

13:

      Every poet comes to the unhappy realisation that — as Auden noted — poetry makes nothing happen. Michael’s reaction seems to have been a kind of wilful petulance. Every cloud had to have a leaden lining, and the world was meant to be a cruel place for poets. ‘Bitterness becomes a habit’, as he said in one poem. (It’s a sad irony that he died just as the first Literature Board grants were being planned.)

14:

      Michael’s hymns to Bohemia often strike me as posed and silly. But in his last year his drug-damaged and incoherent life-style caused his health to collapse; the poems written during this time have a limping and tragic urgency about them.

15:

      Whatever his faults, Michael Dransfield did write some wonderful lyric poems; his abundant talent and his generosity of spirit shine through them. In some important ways, that’s more valuable to his readers than a sophisticated technique.

16:

      This generally excellent book has some faults of its own. It lacks a proper bibliography — though the details are mentioned in passing — and it lacks a chronological outline of the important events, influences and places in Michael’s tangled life.

17:

      More importantly, it doesn’t date the poems. Michael obsessively did. At times he even noted the time of starting and finishing work on his manuscripts, like a public servant filling in a time-sheet. That he had to omit these dates in the books published while he was alive is irrelevant. The information is needed now for a full understanding of many of the poems, especially those apparently written in his last years.


18:

Some second thoughts, circa 2013: I mentioned in this review that ‘Robert Adamson’s ‘The Rumour’ and Martin Johnston’s ‘The Blood Aquarium’ — both huge, heavily worked and difficult poems — were never matched in scope or technical daring by Dransfield.’ That’s an understatement: there were many other attempts at grand statements and large projects in those early days: my own ‘Red Movie’, John A. Scott’s lyric sequence ‘A’, Alan Wearne’s ‘Out Here’, and others.

19:

      Dransfield liked to finish a poem in half an hour, and it seems to me his best energies were devoted to surface detail, like the beautifully bejewelled poetry of Kenneth Slessor, with whom he has a lot in common. Not for him the months-long drudgery and painstaking architectural construction and reconstruction of the large poetic project. I remember his calling to see me and some other poets at 50 Church Street Balmain in the late 1960s, proud of the thickness of the green springback binder full of recent poems (typed up on foolscap paper, as I recall) with the start and finish times inserted at the foot of each poem.

20:

      He called to see me and Lyn in Neutral Bay in 1973. His last days were sad to see. Injured in a motor-bike crash, paranoid, exhausted by drugs and the effort to give up drugs, he cut a miserable figure.

21:

      And as the years went by I came to feel that there were other themes behind his depression.

22:

      On the one hand, what next? What kind of poetry would he be writing in twenty years’ time? More of the same light lyrics that were all he had really managed to write, up to now? Had he been wasting his time? Was it too late to catch up, to undergo the immense task of reading and study that Rimbaud had talked about? He had wagered on drugs to give him insights, but he had a fair idea by now, after months of illness and hospitalisation, that those insights were not worth much.

23:

      And then there was the matter of sexual maturity. Even for a young man he was jejune and impressionable, it seemed to me, and he had been very enthralled by his new friends: older and more famous men who had property (property was one of his obsessions), families and reputations as poets. It seems — though he didn’t mention such things to me — that he imagined himself into the role of a kind of brilliant young Rimbaud to these older writers’ seedy but successful Verlaine.

24:

      As the decades passed, I came to believe, rightly or wrongly, that he had indulged one or more of these older men in sexual play. Indeed in ‘Memoirs of a Velvet Urinal’ he writes ‘i love all poets; there is / no private self; as, if he needs me, / i go to him. the habit / forms, that we lie together / each time. When he touches me, it is true, a small / space turned in my belly…’ Michael well may have been a sexual manipulator, though I doubt it. But what would I know? To me all of this is deeply sad.

 

Michael Dransfield, 1948-1973

Michael Dransfield, 1948-1973

dransfield-drug-poems-cvr
FEATURE: Michael Dransfield: Nearly seventy years old

Biographical note: Michael Dransfield (1948-73) was born and grew up in Sydney. He attended Sydney Grammar and (briefly) Sydney University, and worked for a while in the Australian Taxation Department as a clerk before drifting into the counter-culture and adopting the role of wandering minstrel. He was a prolific writer of lyrical poems which gained wide attention early, and which later in his brief career came to focus more and more on drug experiences. After injecting an unknown substance (heroin?) into his jugular vein, he became unconscious and fell into a coma that lasted a month; he finally died in Mater Hospital in Sydney on 20 April 1973. He was in his mid-twenties, and he died before his talent had fully matured, leaving behind close to a thousand poems. His first book was Streets of the Long Voyage (UQP, 1970). His Collected Poems (UQP, 1987) was edited by Rodney Hall, who as poetry editor of The Australian newspaper had been among the first to publish Dransfield’s poetry. —

[»»] 1987 Collected Poems, by Michael Dransfield, edited by Rodney Hall, University of Queensland Press, paperback, $14:95. First published in the Weekend Australian 21–22 November 1987. This piece is 800 words or about two printed pages long.

[»»] Sydney City Coroner’s report on Michael Dransfield’s death, from the Sunday Mirror, June, 1973.

[»»] ‘The Poetry Explosion’ — Virginia Osborne introduces six talented young Sydney poets, Vogue Australia, April 1971 (Robert Adamson, John Tranter, Michael Dransfield, Martin Johnston, Terry Larsen, and Peter Skrzynecki.)

[»»] John Tranter: Two Poems for Michael Dransfield.

[»»] A photo and a map of Michael’s loft flat.

 

The American Model, 1982

1982: The American Model

[»»] 1982: The American Model: Contents, Index, Contributors: The American Model conference was held at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, from 9 to 12 May, 1979. Later, in 1982, Joan Kirkby (the conference organiser, and an American, brought up in Boise, Idaho) organised for most of the papers delivered there to be published as a book: The American model: influence and independence in Australian poetry, Edited by Joan Kirkby. Published Sydney, N.S.W. : Hale & Iremonger, 1982.

[»»] Illustrations: lots of black and white photos of poets; here we present the sources.

[»»] Joan Kirkby’s Preface

[»»] Acknowledgments: sources for the many papers and talks.

[»»] Introduction, by Joan Kirkby: ‘In anonymous reviews of his own work Walt Whitman contrasted himself with his English contemporary, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and celebrated himself in no uncertain terms…’

[»»] Walt Whitman’s poetic line: by Galway Kinnell: ‘Every poet of my generation in America started out writing formal poetry, and nearly every one of us ended up writing free verse. Each of us needed help in turning to free verse. For me the help came from Walt Whitman.’

[»»] Beware of broken glass: models in a room of mirrors: by Thomas Shapcott: ‘…leaving them floating or reflecting (or refracting) for a moment (I have of course got a use for them later), perhaps I should now make a quick survey of my encounter with ‘The American Model’ in poetry.’

[»»] The Quaker graveyard in Carlton: by Chris Wallace-Crabbe: ‘I want to talk about the way in which the modes and manners of American poetry struck us — and they very distinctively did — in the course of the 1950s.’

[»»] The American model: Penelope or Circe? by Andrew Taylor: ‘I guess this should be a metaphor. I was young. I was prepared to be swept one way or another, frequently totally out of my depth, but I was trusting to luck and, partly, to a developing sense of judgement.’

[»»] William Carlos Williams: by Louis Simpson: ‘[As] [t]he poetry of William Carlos Williams is hardly known in Australia…I shall lay out for you some of the general facts of his life before I discuss his ideas and his writing.’

[»»] Democratic repression and the admission of difference: the ethnic strain: by Fay Zwicky: ‘If being a poet means attempting to confront social disorder and disintegration in personal terms and trying to make poetic sense out of it, then I probably have to count certain American novelists rather than poets as the most profound influences on my thought.’

[»»] Anaesthetics: some notes on the new Australian poetry: by John Tranter: ‘To overcome the inertia of the intellect, a new statement must be an over­statement, and sometimes it is more important that the statement be interesting than it be true. — George Homans’

[»»] Poetry and living: an evaluation of the American poetic tradition: by Robert Gray: ‘Hence the importance of the critic approaching poetry from a very conscious, divulged standpoint — one that must be adequate and defensible. This standpoint, I have come to feel, can only be the humanist or ethical one, which is probably the oldest critical attitude: its least attractive form is Plato’s; at its very best, it is that of Shelley, in ‘A Defence of Poetry’. I will endeavour, in a small way, to make something of this tradition new.’

[»»] Ease of American language: by Vincent Buckley: ‘I got my American poetry by lucky finds, by exchange with other poetry-hoarders like Alexander Craig, and in the form of review copies, got by pointedly asking editors for those books rather than A Gippsland Grandmother or The Last of the Sailing Ships. I reviewed, for example, early Lowell, James Wright, Robert Penn Warren, Kenneth Rexroth.’

[»»] Public voices and private feeling: by Bruce Dawe: ‘I have entitled this paper ‘Public Voices and Private Feeling’ because it seems to me that one of the continuing tasks in which so many Australian poets of the post-war generation are necessarily engaged is the relating of these two areas — the public world in which we have a stake as citizens like everyone else and that private world where we confront the mystery of our individual personalities, our individual perceptions and affections, our individual destinies.’

 

Thesis

Thesis, 2009

In 2005 I decided to ‘do a thesis’, on the urging of Cathy Cole, who wanted me to start at UTS (the initials of the University of Technology, Sydney, once called the New South Wales Institute of Technology [where I worked as a lecturer in the 1980s], which in fact was the erstwhile name of the [now, 2017] University of New South Wales at Kensington), under Martin Harrison, who taught there as well as working for the poet Robert Adamson as an editor of poetry for Paperbark Books. I made the decision, spurred on by the thought of AUD$20,000 per annum for three years tax free, as an APA (Australian Postgraduate Award.)

Eventually, after some searching around, I decided to work under John Hawke at a different university, near Sydney in Australia. John Hawke left that university after a while to work at Monash in Melbourne, Australia, but he continued to see my Thesis through to completion.

It was marked by Martin Duwell in Queensland, Australia, and Mark Ford in London, England, and it (a Doctorate of Creative Arts) was awarded in late 2009. You can read all of the Thesis in PDF form (meaning a rather long download to your computer) from this site:
thesis-2nd-edition-arno

or you can choose to read it in six (or seven) ‘responsive’ HTML installments here. Here it is:

[»»] Distant Voices in 6 Parts, part 1: Poems

[»»] Distant Voices in 6 Parts, part 2: About the poems

[»»] Distant Voices in 6 Parts, part 3: Prior projects

[»»] Distant Voices in 6 Parts, part 4: Dream work

[»»] Distant Voices in 6 Parts, part 5: Appendices

[»»] Distant Voices in 6 Parts, part 6: Bibliography

[»»] Distant Voices: Excerpts from both markers’ reports
 

Novel: Black Gold

 Novel: Black Gold

The only novel John Tranter wishes to preserve is titled «Black Gold». Yes, there are several other books with that title, but I don’t care. It has 24 Chapters and is about 110,000 words long; it is set in 1876, mainly in the town of Wagga Wagga.

And yes, it is free to read here, being published under the Creative Commons Licence 4.0 (see: http://choosealicense.com/licenses/cc-by-4.0/.) This means that it was written by and always belongs to me, John Tranter, and that you may do more or less what you like with it, as long as you note that fact on all the copies you provide.

[»»] Chapter 01 — In which newcomer to nineteenth-century Australia Paul Nouveau travels by coach to Yass and Gundagai, meanwhile meeting a fellow-traveller, an American sailor and deserter named Frank, who lives in Wagga and works on the Advertiser newspaper there.

[»»] Chapter 02 — In which Paul Nouveau continues his travels by coach to Wagga Wagga, though the coach is attacked by two bushrangers who kill the driver. Paul, using his stolen revolver and relying on his military training under the Dutch, kills them both. Frank takes over the reins and they go on to Wagga with the three bodies tied to the roof of the coach.

[»»] Chapter 03 – In which Paul Nouveau continues his travels by coach to Wagga Wagga, after killing the two bushrangers, and — half asleep — remembers his arrival in Sydney not long before, and his getting the Dutchman drunk and stealing his money and his revolver. He remembers watching an organ-grinder and his monkey, and a strange blackfellow, who stares at him. Then he sleeps.

[»»] Chapter 04 – In which Paul Nouveau continues to Wagga Wagga, has an interview with a Police Constable, and meets Alex Greenleaves with his new Remington writing machine. He meets Frank and Julie, and Jimmy Skylark, and goes with Julie Bell to her home, where he will stay the night.

[»»] Chapter 05 – In which Paul Nouveau talks with Doctor Bell and inspects his underground laboratory, and then with his daughter Julie. He meets Julie’s music pupil, Mary Cameron, then leaves to find Frank at the Advertiser office, after agreeing with Julie that he would stay the night at the Bell’s.

[»»] Chapter 06 – In which Paul Nouveau strolls to to the Advertiser office and meets Jimmy Skylark again, this time sorting type, who tells him the story of his uncle the police tracker and Kadjuk the black warrior. Frank and the proprietor, Luther Quoign, who has a wall eye, come back from the Agricultural Show, and Paul tells again how he killed the bushrangers. He accepts a drink of rum from Quoign.

[»»] Chapter 07 – In which Paul dances with Julie at the Bachelor’s Ball, interrupted by Mr Stern, who treats him roughly. Paul speaks to Jimmy Skylark outside, then smokes a quiet pipe in the dark. He is joined by Frank, then Stern appears and savagely beats Paul. Frank helps Paul walk away.

[»»] Chapter 08 – In which Paul Nouveau has his bruised cheek fixed by the application of Goanna Salve, by Doctor Bell. He and Frank walk to the gate in the mooonlight, and talk some more.

[»»] Chapter 09 – In which Frank leaves Paul alone in the front garden to smoke a pipe, when Julie surprises him. She apologises for her fiancé’s behaviour, and talks of the Wagga behind the scenes, the wife-beatings, the poor people her father visits as a doctor, of the anguish of poverty. She says she has travelled in Europe, and has had her writing published. Paul mocks her pretensions. She tells him of her time in Sydney, at the age of seventeen, trying to learn to paint, with no success; and of her forlorn affair with her art teacher, a fraud. Oh frauds, Paul says: I knew plenty of them, in Paris. And I had a friend who knew young artists in the 1850s who starved, and who killed themselves. They were frauds too. Julie and Paul kiss, then she breaks away and goes back into the house.

[»»] Chapter 10 – In which Paul Nouveau idly talks with Doctor Bell and his daughter over breakfast, then goes to the show. They stop at the shooting alley, where Julie excels, then the silhouette stall run by old Abe Latchett, and talk for a while. They each have silhouette made, then Barnaby the dog-breeder warns him about the Heeneys, family of the bushranger Paul killed. Later Barnaby drinks a beer then wanders off, and outside the photographers’ tent Paul finds himself talking with Mr Brownlee and Miss Dunn, a lady originally from Hobart Town, with Marcel, a small dog, on her lap. Miss Dunn encourage him to join the the Wagga Wagga Floral Art Society.

[»»] Chapter 11 – In which Paul Nouveau cleans his revolver. Julie returnes from shopping, upset. She had remembered her mother, who had died long ago. Paul tells her about his past — some of it. How he had seen a dead body when he was young, and how his father had left the family when Paul was very young. They drink their tea in silence, and it grows dark. It was time for Paul to visit Verheeren.

[»»] Chapter 12 – In which Paul Nouveau visits Verheeren in the town’s Chinese opium den. He has a long conversation with Mr Lee, the Chinaman, about how Lee came to from Java to Australia looking for gold, the difficulties he faced, and the Chinese Buddhist goddess of Mercy, Guanjin. Finally Paul meets Verheeren, explores Verheeren’s time in Java, and gives him an amulet he has been carrying for this purpose. Verheeren shows fear, and Paul dislikes him intensely.

[»»] Chapter 13 – In which Paul Nouveau begins by walking Julie to Church, but soon veers off to visit Mr Axel Greenleaves, the local hermit, who lives in a vast, old estate. Greenleaves has recently returned from Paris where he took the paintings of a friend in an attempt to interest some of the Impressionists in them. He failed, and comments caustically on artistic fame in the colonies. Paul discusses his favourite historian Michelet, to little effect. Greenleaves has an ironic view of life, a view unsuitable to his position as a citizen of Wagga Wagga. Paul leaves, mentally stimulated.

[»»] Chapter 14 – In which Paul Nouveau walks back from Greenleaves’ place, and finds himself in the Masonic Hall, which disturbes him. Later he sleeps, and absorbs the rhythms of Mrs Angel who cleans Julie’s house. He reads the bizarre stores of the disasters and triumphs of the people of Wagga Wagga, in the Advertiser. He remembers his time in London, years ago. He and Julie embark on a boat trip up the river, to an aboriginal midden ground, ending in their making love. Julie cries out, having seen a black man or someone like a black man watching them from the shadows. ‘But no,’ she said, and shook her head. ‘They’re long gone.’

[»»] Chapter 15 – In which Paul Nouveau meets Jimmy Skylark, argues about the direction of the sun’s travels in the southern hemisphere, attends the Magic Show, drinks a brandy or two with Mr Dobbs the banker, and sleeps through most of the show. He later harangues Miss Dunn, catches her and Brownlee quarrelling in the dark, and meets Verheeren, who seems paranoid and unhinged. He walks Julie home, and thinks how lucky he is.

[»»] Chapter 16 – In which Paul Nouveau argues with Frank and Julie, and stalks off to visit Verheeren at the Chinaman’s house. Lee, with his Deringer, surprises Paul at a window, and they talk of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, Guanjin. Paul leaves, and visits Miss Mackenzie’s boarding house, where they are all eating dinner, and where he is nearly surprised by Alice, the maid. He watches Verheeren go off to bed, and climbs up by a tankstand to watch him through the window. He reflects how easy it would be to kill the old man.

[»»] Chapter 17 – In which Julie sleeps badly because of a nightmare, and is woken by a loud gunshot, or so she thinks. She goes to the kitchen and talks there to her father, who has also heard the shot. Julie has broken off her engagement to Mr Stern. Bell goes to his laboratory, and Julie goes back to bed. Paul Nouveau creeps in at dawn, and explains to the Doctor that Heeney’s younger brother had tried to stab him, but Paul had defended himself with his revolver. The Doctor patches up Paul’s cut, and shows him Jane Dorlac’s hands in formalin, then her hanged husband’s hands. Paul tells him of a dream he has had, about an Egyptian priest. They go to bed, and the next morning Frank arrives with the news that Mr Verheeren has been shot in his locked room, with the open window showing how the murderer escaped. He and Bell leave, and Julie and Paul go to visit Mrs Mackenzie at the boarding house. The unspoken question hangs over them: did Paul shoot Verheeren?

[»»] Chapter 18 – In which Paul Nouveau goes with Julie to visit Miss Mackenzie and takes tea with them, after almost being robbed by Miss Mackenzie’s monkey, Bob. Miss Mackenzie tells them about the judicial killing of two Wiradjuri aboriginal runaways, a story sent to her by Mr Gow. Paul asks to see Mr Verheeren’s room, and takes Julie with him.

[»»] Chapter 19 – In Verheeren’s room, in which Paul Nouveau goes through Verheeren’s letters, from Verheeren himself and from his wife in Antwerp, and finds nothing of value. Stern arrives, argues with them both, and ransacks the satchel of letters. Nothing. Julie tells him their engagement is over, and says she knows about Stern’s debts. He tells them about his father, a Jew who was never made welcome either in Melbourne, or in Wagga. Wagga is full of debt, he says. They all leave.

[»»] Chapter 20 – In which Paul Nouveau goes to meet Jimmy Skylark, waits, grows impatient and goes to Greenleaves’ place, where to his surprise he meets a gang of schoolchildren under the supervision of Mary Cameron. Greenleaves tells Paul that they have been studying the geography of South America. The two men withdraw to the study to talk. Greenleaves tells Paul of meeting a young Paul Morphy, the American chess champion, in Paris, who easily defeats Greenleaves at a game of chess. Paul is very interested in the way Morphy has withdrawn from the world of chess, somewhat in the same way that Paul has withdrawn from the world of writing. Greenleaves reminds Paul of the evening at the Café Tabourey. Paul tells of being shot at, in Belgium, and Greenleaves tells him of his uncle Ebenezer’s death, and the value of a new human life.

[»»] Chapter 21 – In which Paul Nouveau leaves Greenleaves’ place and returns to the Advertiser office. There he meets Jimmy Skylark with a bluetongue lizard, and Jimmy tells Paul that he has found his tracks at the back of the boarding house, and that Paul is under suspicion for the murder of Verhereen. Paul talks Frank into visiting Solomon Goldstein, the pawnbroker, and discovers that Verheeren had tried to pawn some stamps. They go back to Verheeren’s room and Paul discovers that the stamps on Verheeren’s letters are not genuine, and are in fact very valuable. He has been collecting rare first editions and misprints, and no one has guessed that the stamps are not the real thing. Stern and Constable Sloessor arrive, and they take Paul off to the Police Station to answer some awkward questions. Just as Sloessor is starting to question Paul, a distraught youth arrives with an urgent message: two masked men had knocked out the stable boys and made off with two horses. Paul is locked in the cells and Sloessor goes to investigate.

[»»] Chapter 22 – In which Paul Nouveau dozes in his cell fitfully, and is woken by the arrival of Barnaby. Paul recognises him as the dog trainer whose kelpies would bring him fame. He has taken on a few drinks too many, and enthuses at length about Professor Culpepper’s miraculous Magnetical Water, which — from a source under the Himalayas — is guaranteed to make you well and strong. Miss Dunn arrives with some meat loaf for Barnaby — and none for the French foreigner, who could well be a murderer for all Miss Dunn knows. Constable Sloesser arrives hot and bothered and sorts things out. Paul sleeps again, fitfully, and is woken by Barnaby, who reminisces about poor Larry Lecouter, who shared a cell with Barnaby, and who was hanged at Darlinghurst Jail, and a year later found to be innocent. Paul is comforted by the thought that Frank may rescue him later that night.

[»»] Chapter 23 – In which Frank helps Paul Nouveau escape from Gaol in Wagga, and they make their way back to Doctor Bell’s house. Doctor Bell muses on Paul’s problem, and discovers the duplicitous solution to Verheeren’s odd death — Paul is in the clear. Paul decides to return to Europe. Frank agrees to go to Sydney with Paul, and goes off the fetch the horses. Paul and Julie talk in the garden, and a lot is revealed. Frank returns.

[»»] Chapter 24 – In which Paul Nouveau clambers onto the buggy, and Julie joins him beside Frank, in order to bring the buggy home. Jimmy Skylark joins them, with an old flintlock revolver. They set off for Junee in the moonlight, but soon young Heeney and another horseman attack them. Paul retrieves his revolver and loads it, as young Heeney attacks Frank. Paul shoots Heeney’s horse, and they escape. In Sydney, Paul sells Verheeren’s stamps for a large sum, most of which he gives to Frank. He thinks of returning to Europe where he belongs. Frank should go back to Wagga, and to Julie, whom he loves.

 

1979: The New Australian Poetry

Contact: writers and Estate Executors who wish to delete material, or who instead wish to give permission to reprint work in full, rather than truncated to 8 lines, as used occasionally herein to avoid the complex labyrinth of copyright, may contact me easily by phone, mail or email here.


Okay — this is a trip into the distant past: 1979! Things were fine in seventy-nine, or so they say. Now, how to you explore this site?

First a couple of reviews from 1980: Rae Desmond Jones takes a very smart look at what this anthology means in terms of John Tranter’s output of poems, here.

Second, the late Martin Harrison takes a long and detailed (and very British) look at what this anthology means in 1980 in terms of the fate of modernism in Australia, here.

Then, to look at each poem in the anthology (and there are hundreds!) you can check out the Contents pages: each poem title has an automatic link to that poem, here.

Then, a light-hearted look at how these crazy poets saw themselves. Well, not quite. “They Dared to Live”, below. And below that, the fronts, backs, and the twenty-four contributors.

They Dared to Live!
The Generation of ’68 and The New Australian Poetry flyer.
Inserted into copies of «New Poetry» magazine 1979. The «Surfers Paradise» launch party was held in March 1979. Published here under the Creative Commons licence Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives: CC BY-NC-ND

This flyer advertising the publication of «The New Australian Poetry» (Makar Press, 1979), and on the verso «Surfers Paradise» magazine number two, was distributed with an issue of «New Poetry» probably in late 1979. Written, designed and typeset by John Tranter, it echoed the sense of playfulness that was an important part of the poetry (and of the general approach to life) of that generation of writers. This HTML version imitates the layout and typestyle of the original.

They Dared to Live!
They Dared to Live!

Drugs and sex weren’t enough! In the turmoil of the late 1960s a new generation of writers burst onto the scene. Heedless of restraint, and filled with urges they themselves only half-understood, they wanted — and demanded — more! Much more!

Driven by the frenzied rhythms of pop music, half-crazed by mind-bending psychedelic drugs, reeling from one bizarre sexual encounter to another, they forged for themselves the ultimate thrill — POETRY!
But not the poetry you are used to in the classroom! No, these wild and talented youngsters recklessly overthrew all the accepted traditions of English verse! The art they created flamed and raged across the page! Torn from their own anguish and ecstasy, their brilliantly-crafted writings will stun you into a new understanding of your own deepest urges!

Now, for the first time, a major publisher has dared to bring together the best poems of this generation. Makar Press, highly respected as a publisher of fine, scholarly books, printed in hard-to-obtain limited editions on the best quality paper, will soon release THE NEW AUSTRALIAN POETRY. For those with the courage to take up the challenge of this disturbing and brilliant work, here is a rare opportunity, exclusively limited to readers of this magazine.

Fill in this coupon, mail it straight to the address below, and we will rush you — as soon as our busy printing schedule allows — a special pre-release copy of The New Australian Poetry. Twenty-four of the most skilled and outspoken poets of the decade collected in more than 350 pages of fine paper, specially stitched and solidly bound, scrupulously edited by the most respected literary publishers in Australia — rushed direct to you in a plain wrapper bearing only the distinguished crest of Makar Press!

The burning contemporary issues which these poets so frankly explore are only part of the rich experience you will gain from this book. It is also destined to become a classic of Australian culture, an enduring monument to the great gifts squandered so freely by these young writers, to the publisher’s courage in bringing it before the public, and to you — the reader — for whom, after all, these poems were written! Don’t delay any longer! Take the chance we now offer you to participate in the most thrilling experience in our cultural history!
Our special pre-publication price of $10 — post free — can never be repeated!

HURRY, MAIL TODAY!


TO: Makar Press,
P.O. Box 71, St. Lucia, Qld. 4067.
Yes! I am ready to face the challenge of The New Australian Poetry! Please rush me — Immediately your busy printing schedule allows — a copy of this gripping collection, in a plain wrapper bearing only the crest of Makar Press, at the special pre-publication price — available only to readers of this magazine — of only $10 — Post Free! I enclose cheque/ postal note/ money order (cross out whichever doesn’t apply).

RUSH TO:
Address.…………………………………………………
………………………………………………………………
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Insert New Poetry-Surfers Paradise

On the verso of the flyer an advertisement for Surfers Paradise was printed:

S U R F E R S   P A R A D I S E

143 Union Street, Erskineville, NSW 2043

After a delay of four years, issue number two of Surfers Paradise —
the Steve McGarrett Commemmorative Issue — is now out!

Featuring new poetry and prose by:

Stephen Kelen, Laurie Duggan, Martin Johnston, Mick Forbes,
Robert Harris, Phillip Hammial, Gig Ryan, Nicholas Pounder,
John Forbes, Christopher Kelen, John Tranter and Alan Jefferies,

together with brilliant illustrations.

This hand-made product is limited to 250 copies, and is not easy to find in your average bookshop! So make sure of getting yours by sending a cheque, money order or postal note for $2 to this address, and get your copy, post free, by return mail:
SURFERS PARADISE
143 Union Street
Erskineville NSW 2043
Don’t forget to include your own name and address!

And at last, the fronts, backs, and the twenty-four contributors to The New Australian Poetry, 1979:

[»»] 02 Introduction

[»»] 03 Bruce Beaver, 1928-2004

[»»] 04 Rae Desmond Jones

[»»] 05 Nigel Roberts

[»»] 06 Michael Dransfield, 1948-1973

[»»] 07 Vicki Viidikas, 1928-1998

[»»] 08 Tim Thorne

[»»]09 Robert Adamson

[»»] 10 Martin Johnston

[»»] 11 Jennifer Maiden

[»»] 12 John Tranter

[»»] 13 Ken Taylor

[»»] 14 Charles Buckmaster

[»»] 15 Robert Kenny

[»»] 16 Kris Hemensley

[»»] 17 Clive Faust

[»»] 18 Walter Billeter

[»»] 19 Rudi Krausmann

[»»] 20 Philip Hammial

[»»] 21 Garrie Hutchinson

[»»] 22 John Jenkins

[»»] 23 John Forbes

[»»] 24 Laurie (Laurence) Duggan

[»»] 25 Alan Wearne

[»»] 26 John A. Scott

[»»] 27 Biographical and Bibliographical Details

[»»] — 1980 Rae Desmond Jones’ review

[»»] — 1980 Martin Harrison’s review

 

1970 Poetry Australia 32

 Just imagine it is 1970 again:

  Poetry Australia number 32:

  Preface to the Seventies: Introduction

— Provenance: Printed in 1970, Scanned and Edited by John Tranter in 2014.

Contact: writers and Estate Executors who wish to delete material, or who instead wish to give permission to reprint work in full, rather than truncated to 8 lines, as used occasionally herein to avoid the complex labyrinth of copyright, may contact me easily by phone, mail or email here.

pa-front-cover This section features parts of the February 1970 issue of Poetry Australia, the ‘Preface to the Seventies’ issue, guest-edited by John Tranter, who was 26 at the time. He persuaded Grace Perry, the general editor of the magazine, to allow him to collect a group of poems and essays that reflected the newer currents in Australian poetry. Not long after the issue was published he left for two years to work in Singapore. It was his first of many anthologies of poetry. See the Contents Page of the first issue of the (free) Journal Of Poetics Research for other sections relating to Poetry Australia; most of issue 32 of the magazine is reproduced there.


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 1:]

Poetry Australia
Number Thirty-Two: February 1970

Editor: Grace Perry

Associate Editors:
Margaret Diesendorf
Ronald Dunlop

Contributing Editors:
Bruce Beaver
Philip Benham
James Tulip

Consulting Editors:
Ralph W. V. Elliott
Leonie Kramer
Derick R. C. Marsh
Colin Roderick
Clement Semmler

Preface to the Seventies
Guest Editor: John E. Tranter


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 2:]

Published by SOUTH HEAD PRESS
with the assistance of the Commonwealth Literary Fund
and the N.S.W. Government Advisory Committee
on Cultural Grants


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 3:]

COPYRIGHT 1970 SOUTH HEAD PRESS / REGISTERED IN AUSTRALIA FOR TRANSMISSION THROUGH THE POST AS A BOOK / WHOLLY SET UP AND PRINTED IN AUSTRALIA / BY EDWARDS & SHAW PTY LTD, 171 SUSSEX STREET SYDNEY, NSW 2000
SOUTH HEAD PRESS   350 LYONS ROAD   FIVE DOCK   NSW   2046 / SBN 9017602 1


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 4:]

Contents page

Poems by

5 Walter Billeter
6 J. S. Harry
Dennis Davidson
12 Alan Wearne
Terry Gillmore
13 David Rankin
14 Leon Slade
Patrick Alexander
15 Philip Roberts
16 Ian Lightfoot
17 R. J. Deeble
18 J. Frow
20 John E. Tranter
Carl Harrison-Ford
22 Mark Radvan
23 Nick Battye
24 John Blay
Rhyll McMaster
25 Roger McDonald
26 Nick Battye
Michael Parr
27 P. A. Pilgrim
30 Wilhelm Hiener
Paul Burns
32 Suzanne Hunt
Robert Gray
34 Franco Paisio
Peter Carthew
35 Michael Dugan
36 Frederick C. Parmee
38 Jennifer Maiden
39 Kerry Leves
40 Robert Adamson
42 Robyn Ravlich
43 Peter Skrzynecki

Articles by

44     Rodney Hall
Attitudes to Tradition in Contemporary Australian Poetry
46     Thomas Shapcott
Hold Onto Your Crystal Balls
48     James Tulip
The Australian-American Connection
50     Ronald Dunlop
Recent Australian Poetry
58     Donald Gallup
T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound: Collaborators in Letters

The poems in the February 1970 issue of «Poetry Australia» are copyright and it would be too difficult to obtain copyright clearances for them, more than forty years after publication, so I shall publish the only first eight lines of each poem here, a small proportion of the whole 80-page magazine. Bear in mind that due to the intractable problems of converting poetry from the page to a blog computer screen, line indents will inevitably be compromised.


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 5]
[Author:] Walter Billeter
[Title:] The Symbol

The birds,
stilting on summer rust grass,
before they took off
for their flight toward evening.
Was it a symbol?
On the horizon
a bleeding sun died —
no cloud bandage could help.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 6:]
[Author:] J.S. Harry
[Title:] ‘One, in the motel…’

One, in the motel,
bleeds, and cannot be stopped.
Endlessly, the flow
saps, reduces the span.
Across the highway
hessian-coloured sheep
drift, halt,      drift and eat.
Neon-green paddocks’ long-grassed spring

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page6:]
[Author:] Brian Ridley
[Title:] The Quarrel

In my skull a spectral ship twists and flounders.
Your still, opaque eyes project your grey figure
In pigtails, limbs thrown and silhouetted in outrage
From your torso. Soundlessly you scream. Your tiny lips
Tear wider into my cheek. On the nerve-ends of my teeth
My concrete tongue plays to distraction. The dry wrinkles,
The first courses beneath your eyes have nothing
To give back to us. They wait, and more sand will wash

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 7:]
[Author:] Brian Ridley
[Title:] Marcus Flavius Recounts His Friends’ Love (For Geoffrey Lehmann)

I have been told that when their meeting was young
They caught themselves out many times. It was said
They shone with each other’s form, and in their pool,
Bucking and leaping, they dived like dolphins, churning
Their bath of love long after their guests had arrived.
Some later admitted, as they quaffed the heavier wine
Of their hosts, that conversation had become slack
And they were taut in trying not to recognise a tic

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 8:]
[Author:] Nicholas Hasluck
[Title:] Mining Strip

Stones rattle in the pits
on the red ridge.
Children wait for dinner.

The old chev
stands on blocks
with belted hub-caps;
harnessed to gaunt derrick
and red ridge.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 8:]
[Author:] Vicki Viidikas
[Title:] Spring Moon

Shadows fall off in the night
and two hands form a band
of grey, muted black, furred edges.

A cat is squatting in a corner,
eyes tilted to the moon.
Out there people are talking

And joke, corkscrewing their voices
into the blanket —

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 9:]
[Author:] Michael Dransfield
[Title:] Webs

the cobweb room
beneath the eaves
a rafterplace where shadows stay

in it live
a spider, a lover,
a murderer
the game is not chess not life / call it

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 10:]
[Author:] Michael Dransfield
[Title:] Chopin Ballade

Upon the yellow lattice of parchment
lines of lettering are inscribed. If
you have attained the erudition, you
translate these dactyls into jeremiads.
In place of the elaborate
black script, you will see
extraordinary hallucinations. Where stood a ‘T’,
a gaslight on its iron standard;

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 11:]
[Author:] Dennis Davidson
[Title:] Your Hand

Tonight the snoring city sweats with drugs,
Sea-spittle is blown against the windscreen
And my snug car shivers in salty night.
My hand recalls another hand. The beach
Is sour, the distant lights of Melbourne shrink.
I come to swig my heady loneliness,
Get sick on memories. I twist the key
Hard, like a nun killing desire, and stop

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 12:]
[Author:] Alan Wearne
[Title:] Jill

Yes, yes, I’m a new track, a trick…
kept sprite, a wisp,
(all this with trust, but:
O you pussy! watch.) I’ll watch,
till prayer and reveries, (gone into twilight,)
are once, slip —
ays, days,

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 12:]
[Author:] Terry Gillmore
[Title:] Waiting

we all wait
within change
to take off the edge of being

waiting
to step to the road
to the sound of passing cars
constantly invading the skin

the body to ache dry

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 13:]
[Author:] David Rankin
[Title:] Beatitude

the long scarf
twists twice at the neck

her eyes
are moist with excitement

a wide raw leather
belt loops from her hand

she has some knowledge
of his repairs to her mouth

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 13:]
[Author:] David Rankin
[Title:] Very Old Poem

the drift of clouds
and rain
follows me
behind the willows

the portrait of
the peacock
I carried
for so long

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 14:]
[Author:] Leon Slade
[Title:] All-Bran-Le-Ta

When our son brought it in with the milk,
the morning news had icing on it.
It’s holiday (happy birthday, Queen Elizabeth),
but frosted mornings bring pressures to
bear, so I got up, leaving you to lie in the arms
of your electric blanket, while your breath left
you slowly in a gentle huff.

Crazy Melbourne tries like mad

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 14:]
[Author:] Patrick Alexander
[Title:] Iguana

For Tennessee Williams
Tied by fraying selves to isolated stakes
we are fatted for the kill —
gods of vindictive hunger wait; yet almost, I can smile.
For it seems I struggle in a year of dearth —
for any god to be a thin and bony course

Not proffered by my trapper much fattening,
all wild morsels gone from my small circle,
it is ironic that some kinder god, in tenderness

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 15:]
[Author:] Philip Roberts
[Title:] Typewriter

A new kind of traitor, this machine:
smug and gap-tooth-faced invention,
and accommodating to a fault.
You have no umlaut for your words?
no tilde? no accent aigu?
Your love can’t be freed from its English?
Fear not, friend, by the stratagems
of Mr. Alpha’s Typewriter Shop

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 16:]
[Author:] Ian Lightfoot
[Title:] sam

i know what i would do
if i was tall like people:

i’d go to kindergarten and punch
Billy and Sally and Enrico
and run into Miss Taylor just
when she was carrying the softdrinks

then i’d run out onto the middle of the road
because cars don’t hit people very hard

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 17:]
[Author:] R. J. Deeble
[Title:] Biafran Soft Clocks

See footnote [1]

With so many children with so little skin
between them isn’t now the time to adjust
our calendars to include the minds that

move their mantles beyond death. To
find that lay-by systems on fluffy toys
are no longer enough to tell us what our

heads are doing at the third stroke
How do we feel about Christmas when

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 18:]
[Author:] J. Frow
[Title:] “we watched them…”

we watched them from the iron bridge:
shoals of breeding carp,
orange, like rinsed gold,

or soft and dark brown.
drained of spawn
they basked in the brackish, sunlit creek

or moved beneath
the plaited profusion of weeds —

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 18:]
[Author:] J. Frow
[Title:] “more than anger…”

more than anger
joined us.

all night the cats
squirmed through the yellow wind, the floor
listened to the rain beat, we became,

drawn through strange passages of burning,
wood darkened by one disruptive, bitter flame.

crusted with red ash, slowly our persons
caved inward.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 19:]
[Author:] J. Frow
[Title:] the Vigil

it is softly raining on the city.
delicate, crude, your limbs shift,
bones slide under skin,
the grey diffuse with darker movements.
the beam of a clothesline
juts from a flat roof,
angled in the obscure light.
below, in the square,

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 20:]
[Author:] John E. Tranter
[Title:] The Moment of Waking

She remarks how the style of a whole age
disappears into your gaze, at the moment
of waking. How sad you are
with your red shirt, your features
reminiscent of marble, your fabulous
boy-girl face like a sheet of mist
floating above a lake.

Someone hands me a ticket

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 20:]
[Author:] Carl Harrison-Ford
[Title:] The Flag

(after Pentti Saarikeski)
the blood runs from the head back to the veins
“stiff as a window the flag stood out in the wind”
the trains were all on time
in the cities the workers watched clocks
in the distance there was the horizon
the summer pools of water on the roads
are optical illusions

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 21:]
[Author:] Carl Harrison-Ford
[Title:] Closer and Closer

The journey to love
the desert music
the descent

attract
not as the pull
of images but as

the journey
at that time

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 22:]
[Author:] Mark Radvan
[Title:] The horse in the junk-yard

sea-bright smiling
i am the utter anvil of my rock-hard breath
i am the death of every creature
i am the dying in the factory yard
who will come to me when i am singing?
who will tend my wants
and the annoyance of my fingers tapping?

every life green dark sea

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 23:]
[Author:] Nick Battye
[Title:] The Asylum

The arid radiance of an angel
hesitates on the wall.
The Marquis beds down Napoleon
kindly:           keeps
the birthday present of the purring
drum sticks to himself.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 24:]
[Author:] John Blay
[Title:] Man of Letters

He sits before his incomplete portrait,
forgotten by the artist; a half-face
and shadow, the pencilled “This man of Letters”.
From the stairhead his wife and would-be
mistress bellows the arrival of dinner guests.
Cries of introduction, voices down the hallway,
footsteps thump toward his dream
perhaps tonight will see his Boswell in.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 24:]
[Author:] Rhyll McMaster
[Title:] On a Glass Slide

It grows a little,
pulls, or is stretched.
The tiny granules surge
and the blunted pseudopod moves forward;
The amoeba, breaking its back to make a foot
finds what it did not know;
A new form becomes clear
under the microscope’s unstartled eye;

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 25:]
[Author:] Roger McDonald
[Title:] Heartbeat

a bird risen to 10,000 feet, who
meets the mad balloonist in a twist
of blue fingers, then semi-conscious
rolls and tumbles downwards, butterflying
on stunned bone, loose in whistling shafts of air,
hospitable to the idea that clouds
or wishes get things back where they all started.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 25:]
[Author:] Roger McDonald
[Title:] The Enemy

The enemy conspires to end
Heart-beat, grass-growth, clouds
And the life of the wind.
He wishes to extinguish
— among all things —
The life of the sun.

In the present campaign
His weapons are notions of spring —

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 26:]
[Author:] Nick Battye
[Title:] “pressed hard”

pressed hard         to the arctic sledge of reindeer
herding light

where sedge grows from its own strength
and houses stand because of the cold

we in the long dark
making handcrafts under tallow candles

touch         and occasionally         speak

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 26:]
[Author:] Michael Parr
[Title:] Poem Against Solitude

the wood of our words…

as deciduous as winter: The turtle of solitude with
its instincts awry

here are the roofs empty of sparrows…

Mecca has been captivated by
thunder:

of leaping dogs

of wooden asylums…

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 27:]
[Author:] P. A. Pilgrim
[Title:] “on the timeless sea”

on the timeless sea
we sail
in a rusted clipper
ship
going no place
in particular
just out to pass
the time
of day

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 28:]
[Author:] P. A. Pilgrim
[Title:] “easter poem anytime“

upstairs from the penthouse
ten flights higher than the sun
someone on the windowledge
begs to be excused…
as he hurls down the ashes
and sack cloth
as reminders of
how much he’s suffered

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 30:]
[Author:] Wilhelm Hiener
[Title:] Upton-Smith at Forty

The siren sings: “Come on Upton,”
Slurring my name. “Take me first.”
And I, confined by ties, school,
Family, strain till I burst
My eardrums and cannot hear
Her husky cry. (A partiality
For slim-built birds with gravel
Voices had patterned all my days.)


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 30:]
[Author:] Paul Burns
[Title:] The Old Man

Old man,

remnant of my past,
of the days of the child who ate yellow mushrooms,
you squat in your cushioned corner,
your pale eyes reaching out
in the quiet, wanting to talk,
remembering my month on silver crutches.

 


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 31:]
[Author:] Paul Burns
[Title:] A Girl From Another World

On her desk lay folders of history and hate;
a fountain pen copies other men’s knowledge.

Love poems unwritten linger in his mind,
his cramped fist hastening up spectres of the future.

She walks down a road of crunching blue metal,
not looking at the dead moonlight marsh.

He stares in dark coffee lounges at masks of death,
furtively fixes a needle with a dream.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 32:]
[Author:] Suzanne Hunt
[Title:] Evening Ferry

The city looked tonight as if a bushfire
had passed through. The black dark limbs
of the bridge, and a thousand coals glowing

among the buildings. The butt of a tower
at Greenwich burnt white against the horizon.
Pinchgut sailed in silhouette along the lights

of the expressway, and ebony rolls of smoke
dispersed into a sky still glowing pink, where

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 32:]
[Author:] Robert Gray
[Title:] Landscape 3

Wandering down,
with my back to the afternoon,
around the heavy cattle on the road,
in the slanted sun.
The fields are blowing like fire —
the air become for me
at such hour
full of singing, cries, and pennants

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 33:]
[Author:] Robert Gray
[Title:] Travelling

Travelling all day, at evening
the road is hauled away
slowly from the river. — that pale, cold tea
we’ve watched for hours.
It plunges now and
surges over
the long and shuddering
roots of a mountain range.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 34:]
[Author:] Franco Paisio
[Title:] Game

Out of the black wreath of my body
you grow the flame
I know your lips and I know your hand
on this will-o’-the-wisp
and I know your name

I name my madness
when the flame
touches your blood

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 34:]
[Author:] Peter Carthew
[Title:] Cancer ’69

It was an absurd grave we dug
burying nightingale and dove

winter came willowless
with Cain’s napalm

artificial orchids
rebeautify the tomb

beneath the warm gun
that rests on the moon

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 35:]
[Author:] Michael Dugan
[Title:] Childmemory

Down past Macartney’s farm
beyond a wilderness of waist high thistles,
willow trees caressed the creek.
We would come to the willows
along a secret path of our own making,
to leap into their feathered greenness
and, clutching handfuls of whiplike branches,
would swing, eyes closed, above the stream,


p 35: Also available from South Head Press:

Open at Random, by Bruce Beaver
I Learn by Going, by Craig Powell
Poems for a Female Universe, by Norman Talbot
Eyewitness, by Rodney Hall
Two Houses, by Grace Perry
Letters to Live Poets, by Bruce Beaver


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 36:]
[Author:] Frederick C. Parmee
[Title:] Walk in the Night

Moving out from isolation
with clocks ticking time
to the countdown of a people’s history
we walk to strange meetings

stiff in the joints
and using awkward muscles
with care
we learn again to walk upright

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 37:]
[Author:] Frederick C. Parmee
[Title:] Release

From the scarlet letter
to the ultimate freedom
beyond the reach
of rule or retrenchment
this revolution
releases the flood

these shining shells
of our bodies sweep

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 38:]
[Author:] Jennifer Maiden
[Title:] The Scent

I’m afraid to say I don’t want you
The sky looks like white cologne
I grow with a sleep
That is driven down like smoke from the hills
The night dries in my throat with an old dense scent.
Death explained to me once:
“I do not take the people
Who have somewhere else to go…”

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 38:]
[Author:] Jennifer Maiden
[Title:] The Wedding

With my ear on her rib to hear
the slow heartdark beat of her dream
I meet the periphery of night
Behind my shoulder
Crux
And the Pointers glare encased
In the window like hot quartz in water.
An austere unhooded moon —

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 38:]
[Author:] Jennifer Maiden
[Title:] The Factory

Metal from metal, metal shapes metal
Metal eats metal, metal wastes metal
Is rebuked by metal, designed by metal
Metal rules metal. Metal pays me
One thousand three times a day I kick
Metal and metal issues forth, the same.
They say repetition enforces Truth
And ritual is Divine, and here am I

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 39:]
[Author:] Jennifer Maiden
[Title:] Climbing

This shadow at my shoulder doesn’t shed
The substantial night.
The rope twists all breath
From the mountain
As simple as a bed
Far above life in heavy wind you might
Fall beyond the common cliff of death.
With all my side and ear adhered to stone

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 39:]
[Author:] Kerry Leves
[Title:] Slug

I am brown and gradual: softness,
Pushing through slabs of cold air.
I am aware of the gut of the earth,
Digesting ice of last night’s rain;
My wet body-heat melts frost
Into trickles. My work is this track.
It is silver, silver…

I’m a pulp-mouth, sucking. I am death

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 40:]
[Author:] Robert Adamson
[Title:] Your Magazine Husband

1

So finally after strolling along
through whistling constellations above your peaceful roof
three years,
I saw you coming over the ether from the edge
of your world, & remained silent.
Through with striking
the dome of my brain & hoping for music,
I watched you approaching, like one of those floating-women

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 42:]
[Author:] Robyn Ravlich
[Title:] 1910: Homage to Marinetti

At night
the intense vibrance of the arsenals
factories
lit by the glare of electric lights

voracious railroad stations
devour smoking monsters

bridges, giant gymnasts,
span the rivers

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 43:]
[Author:] Peter Skrzynecki
[Title:] Theorem

The last evening of winter passes down its light
Against the fallowed earth and sandstone
That burns red among ferns and gravelled ditches.

Light moves across the stones, through ghosts
Of trees and leaves that burn white in the morning
Of a black frost, as rivers of mist swirl and gather

Where shadows pass beyond the stalks of dry corn
And charred grasses: encircle black stagnant pools,


[On the following pages are various prose articles: to read them, see the last items on the menu for the first number of the Journal of Poetics Research at http://poeticsresearch.com]

  Endnote:

[1]  Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970, taking its name from the Bight of Biafra (the Atlantic bay to its south). The inhabitants were mostly the Igbo people who led the secession due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria. The creation of the new country was among the causes of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War… After two-and-a-half years of war, during which a million civilians had died in fighting and from famine, Biafran forces agreed to a ceasefire with the Nigerian Federal Military Government (FMG), and Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria. [Wikipedia] Though largely forgotten now, the Biafran famine was a very newsworthy topic in 1970. JT

  Just imagine it is 1970 again:

  Poetry Australia number 32:

  Preface to the Seventies: Introduction

— Provenance: Printed in 1970, Scanned and Edited by John Tranter in 2014.

Contact: writers and Estate Executors who wish to delete material, or who instead wish to give permission to reprint work in full, rather than truncated to 8 lines, as used occasionally herein to avoid the complex labyrinth of copyright, may contact me easily by phone, mail or email here.


pa-front-cover This section features parts of the February 1970 issue of Poetry Australia, the ‘Preface to the Seventies’ issue, guest-edited by John Tranter, who was 26 at the time. He persuaded Grace Perry, the general editor of the magazine, to allow him to collect a group of poems and essays that reflected the newer currents in Australian poetry. Not long after the issue was published he left for two years to work in Singapore. It was his first of many anthologies of poetry. See the Contents Page of the first issue of the (free) Journal Of Poetics Research for other sections relating to Poetry Australia; most of issue 32 of the magazine is reproduced there.


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 1:]

Poetry Australia
Number Thirty-Two: February 1970

Editor: Grace Perry

Associate Editors:
Margaret Diesendorf
Ronald Dunlop

Contributing Editors:
Bruce Beaver
Philip Benham
James Tulip

Consulting Editors:
Ralph W. V. Elliott
Leonie Kramer
Derick R. C. Marsh
Colin Roderick
Clement Semmler

Preface to the Seventies
Guest Editor: John E. Tranter


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 2:]

Published by SOUTH HEAD PRESS
with the assistance of the Commonwealth Literary Fund
and the N.S.W. Government Advisory Committee
on Cultural Grants


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 3:]

COPYRIGHT 1970 SOUTH HEAD PRESS / REGISTERED IN AUSTRALIA FOR TRANSMISSION THROUGH THE POST AS A BOOK / WHOLLY SET UP AND PRINTED IN AUSTRALIA / BY EDWARDS & SHAW PTY LTD, 171 SUSSEX STREET SYDNEY, NSW 2000
SOUTH HEAD PRESS   350 LYONS ROAD   FIVE DOCK   NSW   2046 / SBN 9017602 1


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 4:]

Contents page

Poems by

5 Walter Billeter
6 J. S. Harry
Dennis Davidson
12 Alan Wearne
Terry Gillmore
13 David Rankin
14 Leon Slade
Patrick Alexander
15 Philip Roberts
16 Ian Lightfoot
17 R. J. Deeble
18 J. Frow
20 John E. Tranter
Carl Harrison-Ford
22 Mark Radvan
23 Nick Battye
24 John Blay
Rhyll McMaster
25 Roger McDonald
26 Nick Battye
Michael Parr
27 P. A. Pilgrim
30 Wilhelm Hiener
Paul Burns
32 Suzanne Hunt
Robert Gray
34 Franco Paisio
Peter Carthew
35 Michael Dugan
36 Frederick C. Parmee
38 Jennifer Maiden
39 Kerry Leves
40 Robert Adamson
42 Robyn Ravlich
43 Peter Skrzynecki

Articles by

44     Rodney Hall Attitudes to Tradition in Contemporary Australian Poetry
46     Thomas Shapcott Hold Onto Your Crystal Balls
48     James Tulip The Australian-American Connection
50     Ronald Dunlop Recent Australian Poetry
58     Donald Gallup T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound: Collaborators in Letters

The poems in the February 1970 issue of «Poetry Australia» are copyright and it would be too difficult to obtain copyright clearances for them, more than forty years after publication, so I shall publish the only first eight lines of each poem here, a small proportion of the whole 80-page magazine, which falls within the doctrine of ‘fair use’. Bear in mind that due to the intractable problems of converting poetry from the page to a blog computer screen, line indents will inevitably be compromised.


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 5]
[Author:] Walter Billeter
[Title:] The Symbol

The birds,
stilting on summer rust grass,
before they took off
for their flight toward evening.
Was it a symbol?
On the horizon
a bleeding sun died —
no cloud bandage could help.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 6:]
[Author:] J.S. Harry
[Title:] ‘One, in the motel…’

One, in the motel,
bleeds, and cannot be stopped.
Endlessly, the flow
saps, reduces the span.
Across the highway
hessian-coloured sheep
drift, halt,      drift and eat.
Neon-green paddocks’ long-grassed spring

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page6:]
[Author:] Brian Ridley
[Title:] The Quarrel

In my skull a spectral ship twists and flounders.
Your still, opaque eyes project your grey figure
In pigtails, limbs thrown and silhouetted in outrage
From your torso. Soundlessly you scream. Your tiny lips
Tear wider into my cheek. On the nerve-ends of my teeth
My concrete tongue plays to distraction. The dry wrinkles,
The first courses beneath your eyes have nothing
To give back to us. They wait, and more sand will wash

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 7:]
[Author:] Brian Ridley
[Title:] Marcus Flavius Recounts His Friends’ Love (For Geoffrey Lehmann)

I have been told that when their meeting was young
They caught themselves out many times. It was said
They shone with each other’s form, and in their pool,
Bucking and leaping, they dived like dolphins, churning
Their bath of love long after their guests had arrived.
Some later admitted, as they quaffed the heavier wine
Of their hosts, that conversation had become slack
And they were taut in trying not to recognise a tic

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 8:]
[Author:] Nicholas Hasluck
[Title:] Mining Strip

Stones rattle in the pits
on the red ridge.
Children wait for dinner.

The old chev
stands on blocks
with belted hub-caps;
harnessed to gaunt derrick
and red ridge.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 8:]
[Author:] Vicki Viidikas
[Title:] Spring Moon

Shadows fall off in the night
and two hands form a band
of grey, muted black, furred edges.

A cat is squatting in a corner,
eyes tilted to the moon.
Out there people are talking

And joke, corkscrewing their voices
into the blanket —

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 9:]
[Author:] Michael Dransfield
[Title:] Webs

the cobweb room
beneath the eaves
a rafterplace where shadows stay

in it live
a spider, a lover,
a murderer
the game is not chess not life / call it

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 10:]
[Author:] Michael Dransfield
[Title:] Chopin Ballade

Upon the yellow lattice of parchment
lines of lettering are inscribed. If
you have attained the erudition, you
translate these dactyls into jeremiads.
In place of the elaborate
black script, you will see
extraordinary hallucinations. Where stood a ‘T’,
a gaslight on its iron standard;

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 11:]
[Author:] Dennis Davidson
[Title:] Your Hand

Tonight the snoring city sweats with drugs,
Sea-spittle is blown against the windscreen
And my snug car shivers in salty night.
My hand recalls another hand. The beach
Is sour, the distant lights of Melbourne shrink.
I come to swig my heady loneliness,
Get sick on memories. I twist the key
Hard, like a nun killing desire, and stop

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 12:]
[Author:] Alan Wearne
[Title:] Jill

Yes, yes, I’m a new track, a trick…
kept sprite, a wisp,
(all this with trust, but:
O you pussy! watch.) I’ll watch,
till prayer and reveries, (gone into twilight,)
are once, slip —
ays, days,

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 12:]
[Author:] Terry Gillmore
[Title:] Waiting

we all wait
within change
to take off the edge of being

waiting
to step to the road
to the sound of passing cars
constantly invading the skin

the body to ache dry

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 13:]
[Author:] David Rankin
[Title:] Beatitude

the long scarf
twists twice at the neck

her eyes
are moist with excitement

a wide raw leather
belt loops from her hand

she has some knowledge
of his repairs to her mouth

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 13:]
[Author:] David Rankin
[Title:] Very Old Poem

the drift of clouds
and rain
follows me
behind the willows

the portrait of
the peacock
I carried
for so long

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 14:]
[Author:] Leon Slade
[Title:] All-Bran-Le-Ta

When our son brought it in with the milk,
the morning news had icing on it.
It’s holiday (happy birthday, Queen Elizabeth),
but frosted mornings bring pressures to
bear, so I got up, leaving you to lie in the arms
of your electric blanket, while your breath left
you slowly in a gentle huff.

Crazy Melbourne tries like mad

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 14:]
[Author:] Patrick Alexander
[Title:] Iguana

For Tennessee Williams
Tied by fraying selves to isolated stakes
we are fatted for the kill —
gods of vindictive hunger wait; yet almost, I can smile.
For it seems I struggle in a year of dearth —
for any god to be a thin and bony course

Not proffered by my trapper much fattening,
all wild morsels gone from my small circle,
it is ironic that some kinder god, in tenderness

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 15:]
[Author:] Philip Roberts
[Title:] Typewriter

A new kind of traitor, this machine:
smug and gap-tooth-faced invention,
and accommodating to a fault.
You have no umlaut for your words?
no tilde? no accent aigu?
Your love can’t be freed from its English?
Fear not, friend, by the stratagems
of Mr. Alpha’s Typewriter Shop

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 16:]
[Author:] Ian Lightfoot
[Title:] sam

i know what i would do
if i was tall like people:

i’d go to kindergarten and punch
Billy and Sally and Enrico
and run into Miss Taylor just
when she was carrying the softdrinks

then i’d run out onto the middle of the road
because cars don’t hit people very hard

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 17:]
[Author:] R. J. Deeble
[Title:] Biafran Soft Clocks

See footnote [1]

With so many children with so little skin
between them isn’t now the time to adjust
our calendars to include the minds that

move their mantles beyond death. To
find that lay-by systems on fluffy toys
are no longer enough to tell us what our

heads are doing at the third stroke
How do we feel about Christmas when

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 18:]
[Author:] J. Frow
[Title:] “we watched them…”

we watched them from the iron bridge:
shoals of breeding carp,
orange, like rinsed gold,

or soft and dark brown.
drained of spawn
they basked in the brackish, sunlit creek

or moved beneath
the plaited profusion of weeds —

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 18:]
[Author:] J. Frow
[Title:] “more than anger…”

more than anger
joined us.

all night the cats
squirmed through the yellow wind, the floor
listened to the rain beat, we became,

drawn through strange passages of burning,
wood darkened by one disruptive, bitter flame.

crusted with red ash, slowly our persons
caved inward.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 19:]
[Author:] J. Frow
[Title:] the Vigil

it is softly raining on the city.
delicate, crude, your limbs shift,
bones slide under skin,
the grey diffuse with darker movements.
the beam of a clothesline
juts from a flat roof,
angled in the obscure light.
below, in the square,

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 20:]
[Author:] John E. Tranter
[Title:] The Moment of Waking

She remarks how the style of a whole age
disappears into your gaze, at the moment
of waking. How sad you are
with your red shirt, your features
reminiscent of marble, your fabulous
boy-girl face like a sheet of mist
floating above a lake.

Someone hands me a ticket

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 20:]
[Author:] Carl Harrison-Ford
[Title:] The Flag

(after Pentti Saarikeski)
the blood runs from the head back to the veins
“stiff as a window the flag stood out in the wind”
the trains were all on time
in the cities the workers watched clocks
in the distance there was the horizon
the summer pools of water on the roads
are optical illusions

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 21:]
[Author:] Carl Harrison-Ford
[Title:] Closer and Closer

The journey to love
the desert music
the descent

attract
not as the pull
of images but as

the journey
at that time

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 22:]
[Author:] Mark Radvan
[Title:] The horse in the junk-yard

sea-bright smiling
i am the utter anvil of my rock-hard breath
i am the death of every creature
i am the dying in the factory yard
who will come to me when i am singing?
who will tend my wants
and the annoyance of my fingers tapping?

every life green dark sea

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 23:]
[Author:] Nick Battye
[Title:] The Asylum

The arid radiance of an angel
hesitates on the wall.
The Marquis beds down Napoleon
kindly:           keeps
the birthday present of the purring
drum sticks to himself.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 24:]
[Author:] John Blay
[Title:] Man of Letters

He sits before his incomplete portrait,
forgotten by the artist; a half-face
and shadow, the pencilled “This man of Letters”.
From the stairhead his wife and would-be
mistress bellows the arrival of dinner guests.
Cries of introduction, voices down the hallway,
footsteps thump toward his dream
perhaps tonight will see his Boswell in.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 24:]
[Author:] Rhyll McMaster
[Title:] On a Glass Slide

It grows a little,
pulls, or is stretched.
The tiny granules surge
and the blunted pseudopod moves forward;
The amoeba, breaking its back to make a foot
finds what it did not know;
A new form becomes clear
under the microscope’s unstartled eye;

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 25:]
[Author:] Roger McDonald
[Title:] Heartbeat

a bird risen to 10,000 feet, who
meets the mad balloonist in a twist
of blue fingers, then semi-conscious
rolls and tumbles downwards, butterflying
on stunned bone, loose in whistling shafts of air,
hospitable to the idea that clouds
or wishes get things back where they all started.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 25:]
[Author:] Roger McDonald
[Title:] The Enemy

The enemy conspires to end
Heart-beat, grass-growth, clouds
And the life of the wind.
He wishes to extinguish
— among all things —
The life of the sun.

In the present campaign
His weapons are notions of spring —

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 26:]
[Author:] Nick Battye
[Title:] “pressed hard”

pressed hard         to the arctic sledge of reindeer
herding light

where sedge grows from its own strength
and houses stand because of the cold

we in the long dark
making handcrafts under tallow candles

touch         and occasionally         speak

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 26:]
[Author:] Michael Parr
[Title:] Poem Against Solitude

the wood of our words…

as deciduous as winter: The turtle of solitude with
its instincts awry

here are the roofs empty of sparrows…

Mecca has been captivated by
thunder:

of leaping dogs

of wooden asylums…

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 27:]
[Author:] P. A. Pilgrim
[Title:] “on the timeless sea”

on the timeless sea
we sail
in a rusted clipper
ship
going no place
in particular
just out to pass
the time
of day

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 28:]
[Author:] P. A. Pilgrim
[Title:] “easter poem anytime“

upstairs from the penthouse
ten flights higher than the sun
someone on the windowledge
begs to be excused…
as he hurls down the ashes
and sack cloth
as reminders of
how much he’s suffered

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 30:]
[Author:] Wilhelm Hiener
[Title:] Upton-Smith at Forty

The siren sings: “Come on Upton,”
Slurring my name. “Take me first.”
And I, confined by ties, school,
Family, strain till I burst
My eardrums and cannot hear
Her husky cry. (A partiality
For slim-built birds with gravel
Voices had patterned all my days.)


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 30:]
[Author:] Paul Burns
[Title:] The Old Man

Old man,

remnant of my past,
of the days of the child who ate yellow mushrooms,
you squat in your cushioned corner,
your pale eyes reaching out
in the quiet, wanting to talk,
remembering my month on silver crutches.

 


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 31:]
[Author:] Paul Burns
[Title:] A Girl From Another World

On her desk lay folders of history and hate;
a fountain pen copies other men’s knowledge.

Love poems unwritten linger in his mind,
his cramped fist hastening up spectres of the future.

She walks down a road of crunching blue metal,
not looking at the dead moonlight marsh.

He stares in dark coffee lounges at masks of death,
furtively fixes a needle with a dream.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 32:]
[Author:] Suzanne Hunt
[Title:] Evening Ferry

The city looked tonight as if a bushfire
had passed through. The black dark limbs
of the bridge, and a thousand coals glowing

among the buildings. The butt of a tower
at Greenwich burnt white against the horizon.
Pinchgut sailed in silhouette along the lights

of the expressway, and ebony rolls of smoke
dispersed into a sky still glowing pink, where

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 32:]
[Author:] Robert Gray
[Title:] Landscape 3

Wandering down,
with my back to the afternoon,
around the heavy cattle on the road,
in the slanted sun.
The fields are blowing like fire —
the air become for me
at such hour
full of singing, cries, and pennants

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 33:]
[Author:] Robert Gray
[Title:] Travelling

Travelling all day, at evening
the road is hauled away
slowly from the river. — that pale, cold tea
we’ve watched for hours.
It plunges now and
surges over
the long and shuddering
roots of a mountain range.

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 34:]
[Author:] Franco Paisio
[Title:] Game

Out of the black wreath of my body
you grow the flame
I know your lips and I know your hand
on this will-o’-the-wisp
and I know your name

I name my madness
when the flame
touches your blood

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 34:]
[Author:] Peter Carthew
[Title:] Cancer ’69

It was an absurd grave we dug
burying nightingale and dove

winter came willowless
with Cain’s napalm

artificial orchids
rebeautify the tomb

beneath the warm gun
that rests on the moon

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 35:]
[Author:] Michael Dugan
[Title:] Childmemory

Down past Macartney’s farm
beyond a wilderness of waist high thistles,
willow trees caressed the creek.
We would come to the willows
along a secret path of our own making,
to leap into their feathered greenness
and, clutching handfuls of whiplike branches,
would swing, eyes closed, above the stream,


p 35: Also available from South Head Press:

Open at Random, by Bruce Beaver
I Learn by Going, by Craig Powell
Poems for a Female Universe, by Norman Talbot
Eyewitness, by Rodney Hall
Two Houses, by Grace Perry
Letters to Live Poets, by Bruce Beaver


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 36:]
[Author:] Frederick C. Parmee
[Title:] Walk in the Night

Moving out from isolation
with clocks ticking time
to the countdown of a people’s history
we walk to strange meetings

stiff in the joints
and using awkward muscles
with care
we learn again to walk upright

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 37:]
[Author:] Frederick C. Parmee
[Title:] Release

From the scarlet letter
to the ultimate freedom
beyond the reach
of rule or retrenchment
this revolution
releases the flood

these shining shells
of our bodies sweep

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 38:]
[Author:] Jennifer Maiden
[Title:] The Scent

I’m afraid to say I don’t want you
The sky looks like white cologne
I grow with a sleep
That is driven down like smoke from the hills
The night dries in my throat with an old dense scent.
Death explained to me once:
“I do not take the people
Who have somewhere else to go…”

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 38:]
[Author:] Jennifer Maiden
[Title:] The Wedding

With my ear on her rib to hear
the slow heartdark beat of her dream
I meet the periphery of night
Behind my shoulder
Crux
And the Pointers glare encased
In the window like hot quartz in water.
An austere unhooded moon —

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 38:]
[Author:] Jennifer Maiden
[Title:] The Factory

Metal from metal, metal shapes metal
Metal eats metal, metal wastes metal
Is rebuked by metal, designed by metal
Metal rules metal. Metal pays me
One thousand three times a day I kick
Metal and metal issues forth, the same.
They say repetition enforces Truth
And ritual is Divine, and here am I

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 39:]
[Author:] Jennifer Maiden
[Title:] Climbing

This shadow at my shoulder doesn’t shed
The substantial night.
The rope twists all breath
From the mountain
As simple as a bed
Far above life in heavy wind you might
Fall beyond the common cliff of death.
With all my side and ear adhered to stone

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 39:]
[Author:] Kerry Leves
[Title:] Slug

I am brown and gradual: softness,
Pushing through slabs of cold air.
I am aware of the gut of the earth,
Digesting ice of last night’s rain;
My wet body-heat melts frost
Into trickles. My work is this track.
It is silver, silver…

I’m a pulp-mouth, sucking. I am death

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 40:]
[Author:] Robert Adamson
[Title:] Your Magazine Husband

1

So finally after strolling along
through whistling constellations above your peaceful roof
three years,
I saw you coming over the ether from the edge
of your world, & remained silent.
Through with striking
the dome of my brain & hoping for music,
I watched you approaching, like one of those floating-women

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 42:]
[Author:] Robyn Ravlich
[Title:] 1910: Homage to Marinetti

At night
the intense vibrance of the arsenals
factories
lit by the glare of electric lights

voracious railroad stations
devour smoking monsters

bridges, giant gymnasts,
span the rivers

[Above: First 8 lines only]


[Poetry Australia magazine 32, 1970, page 43:]
[Author:] Peter Skrzynecki
[Title:] Theorem

The last evening of winter passes down its light
Against the fallowed earth and sandstone
That burns red among ferns and gravelled ditches.

Light moves across the stones, through ghosts
Of trees and leaves that burn white in the morning
Of a black frost, as rivers of mist swirl and gather

Where shadows pass beyond the stalks of dry corn
And charred grasses: encircle black stagnant pools,


[On the following pages are various prose articles: to read them, see the last items on the menu for the first number of the Journal of Poetics Research at http://poeticsresearch.com]

  Endnote:

[1]  Biafra, officially the Republic of Biafra, was a secessionist state in south-eastern Nigeria that existed from 30 May 1967 to 15 January 1970, taking its name from the Bight of Biafra (the Atlantic bay to its south). The inhabitants were mostly the Igbo people who led the secession due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria. The creation of the new country was among the causes of the Nigerian Civil War, also known as the Nigerian-Biafran War… After two-and-a-half years of war, during which a million civilians had died in fighting and from famine, Biafran forces agreed to a ceasefire with the Nigerian Federal Military Government (FMG), and Biafra was reintegrated into Nigeria. [Wikipedia] Though largely forgotten now, the Biafran famine was a very newsworthy topic in 1970. JT

 

Continue reading “1970 Poetry Australia 32”

1979: The New Australian Poetry

Contact: writers and Estate Executors who wish to delete material, or who instead wish to give permission to reprint work in full, rather than truncated to 8 lines, as used occasionally herein to avoid the complex labyrinth of copyright, may contact me easily by phone, mail or email here.

Okay — this is a trip into the distant past: 1979! Things were fine in seventy-nine, or so they say. Now, how to you explore this site?

First a couple of reviews from 1980: Rae Desmond Jones takes a very smart look at what this anthology means in terms of John Tranter’s output of poems, here.

Second, the late Martin Harrison takes a long and detailed (and very British) look at what this anthology means in 1980 in terms of the fate of modernism in Australia, here.
Then, to look at each poem in the anthology (and there are hundreds!) you can check out the Contents pages: each poem title has an automatic link to that poem, here.
Then, the fronts, backs, and the twenty-four contributors: ,
[»»] 01 Contents: Links,
[»»] 02 Introduction,
[»»] 03 Bruce Beaver, 1928-2004,
[»»] 04 Rae Desmond Jones,
[»»] 05 Nigel Roberts,
[»»] 06 Michael Dransfield, 1948-1973,
[»»] 07 Vicki Viidikas, 1928-1998,
[»»] 08 Tim Thorne,
[»»] 09 Robert Adamson,
[»»] 10 Martin Johnston, 1947-1990,
[»»] 11 Jennifer Maiden,
[»»] 12 John Tranter,
[»»] 13 Ken Taylor,
[»»] 14 Charles Buckmaster,
[»»] 15 Robert Kenny,
[»»] 16 Kris Hemensley,
[»»] 17 Clive Faust,
[»»] 18 Walter Billeter,
[»»] 19 Rudi Krausmann,
[»»] 20 Philip Hammial,
[»»] 21 Garrie Hutchinson,
[»»] 22 John Jenkins,
[»»] 23 John Forbes,
[»»] 24 Laurie (Laurence) Duggan,
[»»] 25 Alan Wearne,
[»»] 26 John A. Scott,
[»»] 27 Biographical and Bibliographical Details,
[»»] 1980 Rae Desmond Jones’ review,
[»»]1980 Martin Harrison’s review.
Last of all, a light-hearted look at how these crazy poets saw themselves. Well, not quite. “They Dared to Live”, below. Enjoy!
They Dared to Live!, The Generation of ’68 and The New Australian Poetry flyer. Inserted into copies of «New Poetry» magazine 1979. The «Surfers Paradise» launch party was held in March 1979. Published here under the Creative Commons licence Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivatives: CC BY-NC-ND.
This flyer advertising the publication of «The New Australian Poetry» (Makar Press, 1979), and on the verso «Surfers Paradise» magazine number two, was distributed with an issue of «New Poetry» probably in late 1979. Written, designed and typeset by John Tranter, it echoed the sense of playfulness that was an important part of the poetry (and of the general approach to life) of that generation of writers. This HTML version imitates the layout and typestyle of the original.

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They Dared to Live!
They Dared to Live!
, Drugs and sex weren’t enough! In the turmoil of the late 1960s a new generation of writers burst onto the scene. Heedless of restraint, and filled with urges they themselves only half-understood, they wanted — and demanded — more! Much more!

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, Driven by the frenzied rhythms of pop music, half-crazed by mind-bending psychedelic drugs, reeling from one bizarre sexual encounter to another, they forged for themselves the ultimate thrill — POETRY!
, But not the poetry you are used to in the classroom! No, these wild and talented youngsters recklessly overthrew all the accepted traditions of English verse! The art they created flamed and raged across the page! Torn from their own anguish and ecstasy, their brilliantly-crafted writings will stun you into a new understanding of your own deepest urges!

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, Now, for the first time, a major publisher has dared to bring together the best poems of this generation. Makar Press, highly respected as a publisher of fine, scholarly books, printed in hard-to-obtain limited editions on the best quality paper, will soon release THE NEW AUSTRALIAN POETRY. For those with the courage to take up the challenge of this disturbing and brilliant work, here is a rare opportunity, exclusively limited to readers of this magazine.

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, Fill in this coupon, mail it straight to the address below, and we will rush you — as soon as our busy printing schedule allows — a special pre-release copy of The New Australian Poetry. Twenty-four of the most skilled and outspoken poets of the decade collected in more than 350 pages of fine paper, specially stitched and solidly bound, scrupulously edited by the most respected literary publishers in Australia — rushed direct to you in a plain wrapper bearing only the distinguished crest of Makar Press!

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, The burning contemporary issues which these poets so frankly explore are only part of the rich experience you will gain from this book. It is also destined to become a classic of Australian culture, an enduring monument to the great gifts squandered so freely by these young writers, to the publisher’s courage in bringing it before the public, and to you — the reader — for whom, after all, these poems were written!, Don’t delay any longer! Take the chance we now offer you to participate in the most thrilling experience in our cultural history!

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, Our special pre-publication price of $10 — post free — can never be repeated!

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, HURRY, MAIL TODAY!

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TO: Makar Press,
, P.O. Box 71, St. Lucia, Qld. 4067.
, Yes! I am ready to face the challenge of The New Australian Poetry! Please rush me — Immediately your busy printing schedule allows — a copy of this gripping collection, in a plain wrapper bearing only the crest of Makar Press, at the special pre-publication price — available only to readers of this magazine — of only $10 — Post Free! I enclose cheque/ postal note/ money order (cross out whichever doesn’t apply).

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, RUSH TO:
, Address.……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… P’code.……………
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, Insert New Poetry-Surfers Paradise
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, On the verso of the flyer an advertisement for Surfers Paradise was printed:

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, S U R F E R S   P A R A D I S E
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, 143 Union Street, Erskineville, NSW 2043

After a delay of four years, issue number two of Surfers Paradise —
, the Steve McGarrett Commemmorative Issue — is now out!

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Featuring new poetry and prose by:,

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Stephen Kelen, Laurie Duggan, Martin Johnston, Mick Forbes,
, Robert Harris, Phillip Hammial, Gig Ryan, Nicholas Pounder,
, John Forbes, Christopher Kelen, John Tranter and Alan Jefferies,

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, together with brilliant illustrations.

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, This hand-made product is limited to 250 copies, and is not easy to find in your average bookshop! So make sure of getting yours by sending a cheque, money order or postal note for $2 to this address, and get your copy, post free, by return mail:
, SURFERS PARADISE
, 143 Union Street
, Erskineville NSW 2043
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Don’t forget to include your own name and address!

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