Symposium in Sydney!



A Poetics Symposium
Department of English, University of Sydney
7-8 July 2014

Photo: John Wilkinson (left) and Kate Lilley (background) at Gleebooks, 2014-06-30, photo John Tranter

This exciting 2 day symposium on experimental writing and poetics features Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian and Barrett Watten, three of the most significant and influential architects of the movement which has come to be known as Language writing, live and in person. The important English poet-critic, John Wilkinson, will also give a keynote reading. A fantastic lineup of participants from around Australia includes: Pam Brown, Andy Carruthers, Kate Fagan, Toby Fitch, Anna Gibbs, Ross Gibson, Melissa Hardie, Luke Harley, Martin Harrison, Fiona Hile, Eddie Hopely, Ella O’Keefe, Astrid Lorange, Kate Lilley, Philip Mead, Peter Minter, Sam Moginie, Gig Ryan, Chris Rudge, John Tranter, Ann Vickery, Corey Wakeling and Jess Wilkinson.
The Symposium will end with a celebratory reading at Sappho Books, 51 Glebe Point Rd, Sydney, July 8, 7pm.

Also join us for a pre-symposium reading at Gleebooks on June 30, 6 for 6.30pm with Pam Brown, John Tranter and John Wilkinson.

Registration: $60 waged/$40 unwaged; day rate $35/$25


Enquiries: Associate Professor Kate Lilley, Director of Creative Writing, Department of English, U Sydney.

This event is hosted by the School of Arts, Letters and Media and the Department of English at U Sydney.


Photo: poet Pam Brown reading at Gleebooks,
2014-06-30, photo John Tranter

Go Left, Young Person


What does this mean? Apple’s built-in dictionary helps a bit:
loo 1 |lu?| nounBrit. informal
a toilet. [ as modifier ] : loo paper.
ORIGIN 1940s: many theories have been put forward about the word’s origin: one suggests the source is Waterloo, a trade name for iron cisterns in the early part of the century; the evidence remains inconclusive.
loo 2 |lu?| noun [ mass noun ] a gambling card game, popular from the 17th to the 19th centuries, in which a player who fails to win a trick must pay a sum to a pool…
… but no one tells us why it is found to the left, in downtown Balmain, Sydney, Australia.

Free DOS

On Slashdot today:

Jim Hall (2985) writes “In a June 29, 1994 post in comp.os.msdos.apps on USENET, a physics student announced an effort to create a completely free version of DOS that everyone could use. That project turned into FreeDOS, 20 years ago! Originally intended as a free replacement for MS-DOS, FreeDOS has since advanced what DOS could do, adding new functionality and making DOS easier to use. And today in 2014, people continue to use FreeDOS to support embedded systems, to run business software, and to play classic DOS games!”

…who would have thought? … maybe it would run my old version of Wordperfect? Or Word 5.1?

Three Koalas Having a Snooze

Okay, I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff. “Taronga” is Taronga Park Zoo, Sydney’s main zoo area, beside the Harbour. John Ashbery visited there in 1992. He subsequently wrote a poem containing the word “wallaby”, though we may have W.C. Fields to thank for that.*

Three Koalas

* I opened Ashbery’s book “Wakefulness” one day and it fell open to page 24, where I noticed that Australia has had its literary effect: “. . . peanuts fester. A wallaby streaks for the light, / suspenders down, indeed his pantleg is falling.”

Fields? J. Farnsworth Wallaby is a character in the W.C. Fields movie “The Man on the Flying Trapeze”.

Shall and Will


Chapter II. Syntax
IT is unfortunate that the idiomatic use, while it comes by nature to southern Englishmen (who will find most of this section superfluous), is so complicated that those who are not to the manner born can hardly acquire it; and for them the section is in danger of being useless. In apology for the length of these remarks it must be said that the short and simple directions often given are worse than useless. The observant reader soon loses faith in them from their constant failure to take him right; and the unobservant is the victim of false security.

More (*much* more) at

Australian Bikers


Yes, Australian bikers are different. First, they call themselves “bikies” not “bikers”. Second, they’re fond of large, furry pets.
“A stolen alpaca has been recovered during a raid of a bikie clubhouse in Sydney’s south-west. Police on Wednesday raided headquarters of the Gypsy Jokers outlaw motorcycle gang, uncovering drugs, guns and cash.
But they also found Cleo – a brown female alpaca that was being kept in a paddock at the rear of the clubhouse.”
(From: the Sydney Morning Herald, Thursday 19 June 2014.)
(For those British readers who are confused by the statement ” a brown female alpaca that was being kept in a paddock”: in the Australian vernacular a “paddock” is not a toad [that’s Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act 1 Scene 1] but a field or meadow.)

Kids love the Darkroom

HarrisonChebac_Photography_Man-With-a-Camera-580x325In the age of camera-equipped smart phones and inexpensive digital cameras, the odds are good that most people in high school or younger have never seen a roll of film or used an “analog” camera — much less developed film and paper prints in a darkroom.

But film photography isn’t dead yet, at least not in New England, USA. Plenty of local people, in fact, are still teaching, learning, and doing “analog” photography.

“We have at least 40 accounts with schools buying film, chemicals, and paper for classes,” said Laura Roberts, public affairs liaison at Newtonville Camera in Newtonville, who handles photographic supply accounts at the store. From: [Link]
Photo: HarrisonChebac_Photography_Man-With-a-Camera-580×325

The Difficult William Empson

Martin Johnston outside Exiles bookshop, Oxford Square, Sydney, 1980, at a reading for Canberra poet Robert BrissendenMJ: “…I remember a poetry reading years ago which William Empson gave at a pub in London. And he read a series of very, very opaque poems, and made two comments on them. One of them was “By God I was good, when I wrote that!”. The other was “I can’t really see what the difficulty is.” And his audience evidently could.” Australian poet Martin Johnston, being interviewed by John Tranter, Radio Helicon, ABC Radio National, 1987.
Photo: Martin Johnston, Oxford Street, Taylor Square, Sydney, 1980, outside Exiles bookshop. The poster in the background is a silkscreen poster by John Tranter: “We’re With you, Ray! (Ray Denning, fugitive from Justice, later killed). It’s better to be up and doing than down and being done.” Photo by John Tranter.

Morris’s Horace

Is this a silly fantasy, or is it deeply valuable? William Morris: The Odes of Horace, written and decorated by hand.

‘We seem to have been granted access to a treasure: vulnerable, threatened by the very transience that Horace’s odes resist and lament, and therefore all the more highly to be prized’ Clive Wilmer

The genius of William Morris found expression in many different media. Here, for the first time, we have reproduced one of his gems of manuscript illumination: The Odes of Horace, a treasure of the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Produced by the Folio Society.

Production Details: • Limited to 980 copies • Facsimile volume • Printed on Tatami paper in coloured inks with gold and silver foil • Bound in Indian smooth-grain goatskin with 5 raised bands on the spine • Gold blocked on spine, edges and doublures • Shuffled pages • 192 pages • 6¾” x 5″ (I’m not sure what “shuffled pages” means. Cards, yes. JT)

Wordstar 4.0!!


Photo: Author George R. R. Martin

I’ve always admired Australian technical journalist Charles Wright for his incisive stories about computer software. This is a good one: later in the piece he talks about Scrivener and Aeon Timeline, programs I use every day:
“Novelist George R. R. Martin shocked a lot of readers a couple of weeks ago when he revealed to TV host Conan O’Brien that he does all his work on a 1980s MS-DOS computer, using a long-defunct word processor called Word Star 4.0.
“The thought that such a gripping, inconceivably dense, seven-novel epic as A Song of Ice and Fire (so far we’ve only seen the first five) could be hammered out on a long-discarded operating system and creaky, keyboard-oriented, command-line-driven software from the era of dot-matrix printers, completely insulated from the internet, was all but inconceivable to generations raised in the era of icons and touch-screens.” More at