1968 Free Grass magazine

1968 Free Grass magazine: Introduction

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See below for these pages:
page 1 | page 2 | page 3 | page 4 | page 5 | type samples
[the type samples are given on the SETIS site, not here]

«Free Grass» splashed into the pond of little ‘underground’ magazines in Australia in 1968. Like most of the others — «The Great Auk», «Ourglass», «Mok», «Cross-currents», «Transit» and «Free Poetry», it was roneod (that is, mimeographed, or printed on a «Gestetner» brand rotary silk-screen duplicator, developed in the 1890s). The editorial standards were loose, to say the least, and there was a strong counter-cultural flavour to the thing. Strangest of all, it lived up to its title: it was literally free. Dozens of copies landed gratis in alternative and literary bookstores, to be given away to the bemused customers, and into the mailboxes of young poets and their friends.

«Free Grass» was greeted enthusiastically — young poet Richard Tipping, co-editor of «Mok» magazine, wrote a poem in praise of its anarchist spirit, which was printed in «Transit» number two in early 1969.

But when the magazine’s keen fans tried to contact the editor, they discovered two things: even though the magazine quoted generous rates of payment for contributions, no editor’s name was given, and there was no postal address. A note at the foot of page 4 said ‘this is not a magazine, but a state of mind. it’s editor is a mufti in disguise.’ [Let’s ignore the errant apostrophe: the editor was a very you man, still in his twenties.] The usual meaning of the word ‘mufti’ is ‘civilian clothes, in contrast with military or other uniforms, or as worn by a person who usually wears a uniform’, or, loosely, a disguise. Something funny was going on. But what?

The truth slowly leaked out: one morning in late 1968 the Sydney poet John Tranter, editor of «Transit» magazine, had written the whole of «Free Grass», all five foolscap pages of it, typing it directly onto mimeograph stencils, interspersing his spontaneous lyric effusions with nonsense sentences and fragments from a list of cryptic crossword clues in the daily paper. He ran it off the next day, and mailed out the copies. At the time he worked as a lithographic platemaker for the in-house Printing Department of the national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Commission. (The three lines of ornate type that made up the masthead were typeset using Letraset rub-on type and printed on a Multilith 1250 photo-litho machine.)

That same year he had written a poem in the style of (and copying the form of a poem by) the hoax poet Ern Malley, and published it in «Transit» magazine. [‘On Reading an Electrical Meter / at the House of the Rising Son’, on this site here.] Was this hoax magazine «Free Grass» meant to destroy the underground poetry of the time, as Ern was meant to detonate like a booby-trap and take with him into oblivion the pretentious experimental poetry of the mid-1940s? No, claims Tranter.

The magazine was meant as a gentle parody of the ‘underground’ magazines of the day, and in the more flexible and tolerant Australian society of the late 1960s, it had no harmful effect. Life went on, time passed, and «Free Grass» quietly faded away.

A second number of «Free Grass» was partly printed. Its cover featured a holograph fragment from a letter written (in English) by Charles Cros, a friend of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud, mentioning a long poem by Rimbaud which — if the fragment told the truth — had lain undiscovered for over a century. These pages were never collated, bound or published, and are now lost. [Charles Cros worked with Rimbaud in a cardboard box factory in London, and invented the phonograph, presenting it tardily to the French Academy one day after Thomas Edison took out patents for a similar machine in the USA. Poor Charles!]

There is a (loose) key to the names of the fictitious authors of the poems in «Free Grass», and it is to be found partly in the University of Sydney Arts Faculty Handbook for 1968, among the list of teaching staff in the English Department, and the characters who inhabit the books recommended for First Year English study that year, which include «Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man» by James Joyce, and «Passage to India», by E.M.Forster. John Tranter had studied English I [at night] as a part-time student that year.

(For the forensically-inclined, the link to the type samples took you to a page that displays enlarged type samples from three rather similar mimeographed publications: «Surfers Paradise» magazine # 2 (Steve McGarrett issue), 1979 (Smith-Corona portable electric typewriter, c.1957, ten characters to the inch); «Leatherjacket» magazine # 2, June 1973 (Smith-Corona as above); and «Free Grass», 1968 (unknown typewriter, twelve characters to the inch.) The scale is image width = 520 pixels = 1¾ inches. [These scans are available at the University of Sydney SETIS site here.])

Interpolations made much later, often in 2016, are usually typeset in [square brackets].

Copyright and Imprint Notice: Please respect the fact that all the material relating to John Tranter on this site is copyright © John Tranter, 2007, and by the various other authors whose work appears here. It is made available for personal study and enjoyment by individuals only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose.
You can see an image of the original Free Grass first page below.
1968-free-grass-p1-image


[Free Grass page 1]

[LINKS BANNER appears at the top of each SETIS page]
<< previous | IMAGE (or) TEXT | Free Grass contents page | homepage | next >> — Click the word ‘IMAGE’ above to see a photographic reproduction of the original mimeographed page. Click ‘TEXT’ to return to this page. —

PRICE NOTHING / Free Grass IS FREE YOU CAN TAKE IT AWAY RIGHT NOW AND EAT IT Free Grass IS FREE NOW

Free Grass
number one

[left column:]

[Author:] Rupert Thompson (USA), in fact John E. Tranter*
[Title:] POEM

pity the poor Indian

heart as white as snow

he has been left to

the plaintive mewing of the

          traffic

on San Jose Ave. 5th. 9th.

autos parade before him

starved of gas.

[* Note: Author’s name: In 1964, the year I turned twenty-one, a novel appeared published by the Oldbourne Book Co. Ltd., 121 Fleet Street, London, E.C.4, titled The Livin’ is Easy, by Australian author John Tranter. There had never been an author by that name, apart from me, and I was flabbergasted. When Frank Moorhouse presented me with a copy of this novel (for my birthday, in April 1964) he inscribed it: ‘John / I hope your poetry / is better than this.!!’ I discovered decades later that the author was journalist John Taylor Tranter, born in New Zealand and resident in Australia for most of his life. At one point he worked for the Bulletin weekly news magazine, as I did in 1993. I spoke to him once on the phone; he seemed a nice fellow. He died some time before the turn of the millennium. I felt obliged to use my middle initial (Ernest), until some years had passed without another novel by his hand. Some Australian libraries still list this novel under my name.]

[Author:] Patrick Lynch, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] none

the Iron General, breaks.

wind. breaks. the advance.

puff. puff. the shells. attack.

[the following fragmentary phrases were compiled from the clues to the «Sydney Morning Herald» cryptic crossword. – J.T., 2000]

In food, in sport, and — rest. A
will peck in safeguard of their
brood; and with what wing the. . .
checks at it! Boys, apes, Jacks,
milksops! Those — which you want
were dangerous. ‘Tis you must dig with
— and with spade, and here, neighbor,
porridge and their fat who will no len
here’s a cup of — they want their
Make us thy ministers of. . .

[right column:]

[Author:] Dorian Hawthorn, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] WY WHY WH

why should you part from me

just as the beautiful

thing

we had going

was

going

why

should

each

        leaf

                  drop

                            from the tree

to

the

ground

just as spring is approaching.

University of Sydney Crest
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[Free Grass page 2]
[LINKS BANNER]
Free Grass IS FREE YOU CAN TAKE IT AWAY RIGHT NOW AND EAT IT YES LOVELY GRASS FREE / who takes a copy of Free Grass and reads it, so shall he be blessed among men love / FREE WHO BEAUTIFUL Free Grass AND YOU MAY CAN WILL HAVE IT TO EAT AND STUFF UP YR / whosoever taketh a free blade of this grass so shall he be made whole again said / NOSE AS YOU WISH TO EAT? TO SEE TO BE UTTERLY FREE TAKE HOME A COPY FOR MUM LOVE ME

[left column:]

[Author:] Patrick Lynch, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] none

when. Spring. Gongula. Too much

paleface pulled his nose.    exploding

myths. Don said: chthonic. well

I guess.    you explore.    smell

    of everybody’s fragrance

my nose too can say:

          chthonic.cyclonic. Ezra

          hitch up yer pants

          we are of the same wood
                    give over

ya black bastard.         I love ya.

[Note: In 1969 Don Anderson, once a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Sydney, in a discourse on Ezra Pound’s poem ‘Papyrus’ (a translation of a fragment of Sappho: ‘Spring… / Too long… / Gongula…’) which had been published on page 116 of Ezra Pound: Selected Poems, Introduction by T.S. Eliot, Faber and Faber, London, 1959 (and which book had been in the author’s possession since 1965), used the word ‘chthonic’. On page 97 of that book Pound printed his poem ‘A Pact’ which adverted to Walt Whitman thus: ‘We have one sap and one root — / Let there be commerce between us.’. In the London Telegraph, Tom Paine writes ‘Ezra Pound, not really a scholarly classicist… translat[es] what remains of a poem by Sappho. Here’s the whole poem: “Spring…/Too long…/ Gongula…” One point of this poem is to say: what if we take the gaps to be part of the poem? Or at least, part of my poem? It is what the critic Hugh Kenner has called “the poesis of loss”.’]

[right column:]

[Author:] Jennifer Heaslop, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] POEM

the sun comes up

it is like its own

broken promise

livid, gold

filled with the thought of horses

we sit

watching

the only morning

dreaming of guitars.

[center column:]

[Author:] Jo Moore, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:]none

I have seen a young man
walking the streets of the city in despair
his head is filled with black promises
he wonders how to reconcile
killing with kindness ( you are too kind)
mercy medicine with napalm ( hold still

this wont hurt did it )

nothing he can do ( how I

care for you ) ( where are the

              snows of yesteryear )
the walls of the city are           black
                    black
              they don’t hear his soundless cry

I have seen an old man
praying in the neglected grass

                of the park.

///////////////////
          ///////////
                    ///////////// / /// // //

we send greetings and uneven despair to the great auk, ourglass, mok, cross
currents, transit and terd. ‘oh happy band of wanderers, Lightsome be your load’
                    (Isiah II:IV.)

University of Sydney Crest
[Note – The underground magazine titled ‘terd’, mentioned in the fraternal greetings near the foot of the page, is imaginary, as is the pseudo-biblical quote. The other magazines are (were) real.]

Please respect the fact this material is copyright. It is made available here for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose.


[Free Grass page 3]
[LINKS BANNER]
Free Grass IS FREE AFTER ALL    YOU CAN TAKE ONE HOME AND WASH IT DWELL UPON IT SWEET

[left column:]

[Author:] Petr J. Kruse, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] When The Thing Came Marching Home

When Ronnie came home
The girls were waiting at the station
flowers, baskets of fruit
The rows of shiny Holdens

Ronnie had developed a special smile
for the occasion: blue eyes
crinkled mouth: I guess he wanted to forget
something.

When Ronnie walked up the path
The flowers cheered him, the tree
smiled down on his khaki head
Mum was waiting at the door
Dad confused behind his pipe
Kid sister: gee but it’s good to see you, Ron.

Gosh its just like home he said
sweet and conventional but Dad
I can’t help feeling something’s missing.

Sure son he said fondling the stump
of Ronnies missing leg.

[Author:] Peter J. Kruse, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] The Happy Farmer

The old farmer mooched about his pasture
a funny figure could be seen
stepping through the sticky yellow flowers
a young man in a blue suit

Howdy old farmer have you heard the news
love is a sweet message
                    piss offa my farm
all we need to do is love
                    get to hell
all of us, in morbid toleration
                    shift yer arse
I have walked from Chandrapore
keening my suit clean, facy shiny
selling the free and juicy product love!

The old farmer mooched about his pasture
a funny figure could be smelt
lying under the yellow flowers

[Author:] Chris Kruger, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] none

YES. you are. red orange violet puce
violent sunset: hot hot hot: where
green is every envy: hot hot: where
              cooooool:
birds sing // no man
              despaireth // heliotrope
here no birds sing, the insurance salesman
peddles his kit of death
      // buy one Jack? Keep ya moving //
YES. you. are
            some kind of answer
                    : hot hot :
ooh say oooh say ooooh ooh say.

[right column:]

[Author:] Chris Kruger, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] none

The white clerk came into the room
wearing a suit covered in vomit
don’t sit down was all I could say.

the record was filling the peaceful air
with Karmic explanation I’d like some
explanation he sd. for this state of
              affairs.

Outside Our Mother was wailing
take that bastard outa here!
vomit all over the peaceful chairs!

get him out! it’s okay Our Mother I sd.
he loves you but he cannot make it true
sure sd. Our Daddy play that one again
Baby loves you Baby makes it Blue.

[Author:] Jennifer Heaslop, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] none

there I was
      plain as a tree

            in the open sunlight

there you were       like flowers

          filling the light

                    with white

there it all happened      at once

    the boats dragging their tails

    like happy gulls in

        blue water

we could hardly stop walking

[Author:] Jo Moore, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] none

when you were about to say good bye

I thought
                something would happen
perhaps
        the vase you gave me
            all milky
            green glass
    would topple and fall

you paused                 and I knew
        you were about to say
            well
            I’d better
                    be going

I thought
Perhaps
    the light would fail
        but nothing
            happened
                at all.

University of Sydney Crest
Please respect the fact this material is copyright. It is made available here for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose.


[Free Grass page 4]
[LINKS BANNER]
YES Free Grass IS REALLY FREE IT COSTS NOTHING PLEASE TAKE ONE DO THINGS / yes yes yes yes yes yes no no no money no money no money / NO MONEY like a dream yes

[left column:]

[Author:] Tim Smith, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] WAR.

Men came in a rage

Against

A weakening multitude

Belching out murderous flame

Dropping the bombs

That smash

And mangle

We are equally guilty

In our comfortable homes

Sitting at the bowling club

Sipping beer

While the bullets

Paid for with our money

smash and kill

Forgive us

For we know not

What to do

Too weak to love

Strong enough to hate.

[right column:]

[Author:] Dorian Hawthorn, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] POEM.

coming out of the Hornsey School of art
the Elephant of beaurocracy [sic] stopped
              at the crossing
                of me the bent poet
                  was he aware
of me still alive and kicking
            south of the border
                we shall never know
he was only aware
          of the beautiful sunken lady
            pausing also in the
                    air of her undergarments
she was only awareof me the bent poet
                    in a foreign land
                    absorbing the colours
                    of the oh—so—beautiful
and never—to—be—forgotten sunset of the mind

        every such woman
        in every land was aware
        of the sudden decrease in volume
                of her sweet—smell undergarments.
as the bright and weildy elephant of age and wisdom
crushed her under his foot

        every such woman loved me in that instant
        utterly and without reserve.

[Author:] Chris Kruger, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] POEM CALLED ‘OOO…’:

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

[Author:] Patrick Lynch, in fact John Tranter]
[Title:] POETICS.

when the forms of verbal trickery have been exhausted.
when Verlaine’s ghost is finally laid by the black ri
der. when you will ‘take rhetoric and wring its neck’.
der.der.der ( i think he meant a.d.hopeless) when all
the sorry sullage of the happy academies has settled.
when crap has ceased to be hawked in the streets now
labelled as ‘the collected writings of a little soul’
when vengeance has been taken on the Chokers of Life,

then.

[center column:]

this is not a magazine, but a state of mind, its editor is a mufti in disguise.
we don’t seek to make a bean, poetry is free, you will find where we’re at in
your heart. Free Grass. Free Grass. Free Grass. Free Grass. Free Grass

MAKE US THY MINISTERS OF/DISMOUNT THY TUCK, BE YARE IN THY…/FOR NIGHTS SWIFT..
CUT THE CLOUDS FULL FAST/ THE SKIES ARE — WITH UNNUMBERED STARS SPARKS…YOUD
WITH DISTINCT BREATH AND CONSIGNED .. TO THEM.. SINCE YOU SET UP YOUR/.. /GAINST
REMEDY/ TO LEACK OR LEAVE NO GAINST REMEDY RUBS IN THE WORK WHERE DOLPHINS IS

University of Sydney Crest
Please respect the fact this material is copyright. It is made available here for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose.


[Free Grass page 5]
[LINKS BANNER]
Free Grass IS ALSO INEXPENSIVE HAVE YOU HEARD THE ONE ABOUT THE MAN WHO TRIED / TO BUT* A COPY OF Free Grass THEY PUT HIM AWAY FOR LIFE LIFE HE SAID YOU MUST BE / JOKING I’VE JUST RESIGNED YOU CAN’T DO THIS SORT OF THING TO ME I’M A YOUNG LIB

[*Note: ‘BUT’ should be ‘BUY’… another typo: look at the key adjacent to ‘t’]
[left column:]

[Author:] ‘Dedalus’, in fact John Tranter]
[Title:] APRIL FOOL

I found a bottle top
Yesterday     a bit
            grubby
there was nothing ‘special’
about
  it
that’s why yore
perusing this there’s

(nothing…..special)
      about
(this ……..either)
    fooled
      u

[Author:] ‘Dedalus’, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] HOUR BEAUT STILE

the
soft
    wind
        is all
      and
of
course
        a flute/faint
          I E
new conventions like
      ‘o’er’
‘pale love forlorn’
‘Apollo’s golden orb yes yes’
          ‘ah, well….’
we      have <       the
kids having a good time
playing/          ‘young poets’
                    I.E.
‘wot eye fink, is worth reeding’

eye four one wood
send you uprotten
If you hadn’t done it
so exquisitely well
. . . yourselves.

CONTRIBUTIONS
Must be sent with a stamped,
Self-addressed envelope.
Poems are paid for at the
rate of:
$$ 10 for less than 10 lines
$$ 15 ten lines or more

No correspondence will be
entered into.
The decision of the Judges
is final.

Look into your heart.

I met a man who had no feet
tough shit baby saves the leather

[right column:]

[Author:] ‘Dedalus’, in fact John E. Tranter
[Title:] MANIFESTO.

ITS GRATE tbe yung
In love with
being in love
with poetry
y’let it all out

so y’I.Q’s minus
thirty below gas its

so y’dream n mumble
jest let it
drift out in
what        everform

‘shelt’ring trees’, as if
trees existed just for YEW
and not for their OWN regard

evrything seen
not as it is
HOW IT IS T’ YOO // grate
g’wan, let it all hang out

CONTRIBUTORS:
CONTRIBUTORS::
CONTRIBUTORS:::
JENNIFER HEASLOP: 16, never been kissed,
loves guitar music and black coffee.
JO MOORE: young art student, unaware
of her own juicy thighs, lonely, has a
black cat called ‘Pussy’ and loves him.
PATRICK LYNCH: rebel Ph.D. from Trinity
college, Dublin. ‘I am alone in my
despairing hatred of the written word.’
CHRIS KRUGER: ex-intimate of Bob Dylan.
(‘man, he sold out that quick’) making
it in the Australian bush.
PETER J. KRUSE: studied sitar with Yogi
Mahendra in Delhi, is now prepared to
play no music, loves people, despite
being bashed up frequently by people.
RUPET* THOMPSON: 23, Los Angeles poet.
half Indian (‘the other half got lost
somewhere’) stoned since the age of ten
(‘some kind of record I guess’)
[*Note: oh, another typo: should be RUPERT]
DORIAN HAWTHORN: 26, poet, playriteer
(plays performed in London) novelist
manque, videotelerecord operator par
excellence who lives in Hobart god rest
his soul, believes in real death.
[Note: Tasmanian poet Tim Thorne lived
in Sydney for some years around 1969,
originally adopting the name Dorian
Laurent, before returning to Launceston.]
TIM SMITH: 19, Art student: ‘I’ve got
nothing to say except everything’s
getting worse.’
DEDALUS: believe it or not, the pen-name
Of an ex-Professor of English Lit. from
the U.K.a notable scoop for Free Grass.

Free Grass LOVES YOU
IT CAN’T BE THAT BAD
FOR GOD’S SAKE MOLLY
TAKE OFF THAT SNAKE

University of Sydney Crest
Please respect the fact this material is copyright. It is made available here for personal use only. It may not be stored, displayed, published, reproduced, or used for any other purpose.

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