Archive for the ‘adelaide’ Category

Adelaide Oval Stones Concert (ABC)


The Rolling Stones have been in Adelaide. I didn’t go to the concert at the Adelaide Oval, but friends who went say it was brilliant.

In a podcast recently, I heard a poem which was the result of listening to a song at very low volume, and writing down what the poet thought they heard.  So I decided to try it on a few Rolling Stones classics. The initial results are quite weird, so I thought I’d post some examples over the next week or so. This is raw material. I intend to cull it and maybe turn the pieces into a single ‘poem’ if that’s what it can claim to be.

The first one is based on “Honky Tonk Woman”

Honky Tonk Woman

Arm in arm we enter

a harmonium scene

a dentist plies me

with steak and kidney pie


we plateaued, evenings, nights

sucked croissant soldiers

lusting for pink

tossing rhymes


I was a long conquered human

looking for a long conquered muse

later, inner blues

sated with chilli pork

my cousin shoots up

to some kind of high

our ladies came in

covering their noses

threw red roses

from colder climes

I was a long conquered human

looking, looking, looking for a long conquered muse

 Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014




Arriving back in Adelaide Saturday before last, having flown for nearly 24 hours, what I should have done is have a quiet week: give myself time to get over the jet lag and the exertions of a month of socialising with friends and family in Ireland and England.

Instead, I went out on the Sunday night to hear three of my favourite Adelaide poets, Rachael Mead, Alison Flett and Heather Taylor-Johnson, collectively known as “Edit when Sober”. They were guest poets at Spoke n Slurred at the excellent James Place pub in Adelaide.

I should have known that it wouldn’t be a quiet night. I think my worst hangovers in recent times have been incurred whilst socialising with the EwS women; plus Spoke n Slurred is nearly always a raucous night. Needless to say, my recovery from jet lag was seriously delayed by a Monday hangover.

However, on Wednesday, I had the pleasure of meeting up with the same three EwS women to see “Reaching for the Moon”, a film about the great American poet Elizabeth Bishop. One of the first poems to really ‘grab’ me, when I got back into poetry in recent years, was Bishop’s “One Art” (“the art of losing isn’t hard to master”). Bishop was, for a significant part of her life, alcoholic. According to William Boyd, she was a binge drinker, even resorting to eau de cologne when the booze ran out.

So having immersed myself in Bishop and alcohol, it seemed appropriate to write “The Art of Boozing”. I hope Elizabeth would approve. Maybe not. As often happens with a good (or bad) idea, someone else has already had it, and I found an existing interpretation at Pamela’s Musings. But undeterred, I persisted with my own take on it, which I think is sufficiently different:

Elizabeth Bishop

The Art of Boozing

(With apologies to Elizabeth Bishop)

Being drunk, it seems life has more lustre;

the sober self is duller, too content.

The art of boozing isn’t hard to master.


So practice drinking farther, drinking faster:

spirits, beers in pubs you’ve always meant

to visit. Hear the clink of glass, the laughter.


I sank a priceless wine. And look! My last, or

next-to-last, of three aged whiskies went.

The art of boozing isn’t hard to master.


I drank at work, I called the boss a bastard.

Jobless now, I’ll drink the next week’s rent.

Destitute, but it is no disaster.


- Drinking with you (you tolerate my bluster,

my follies) I cannot lie. It’s patent:

the art of boozing’s not too hard to master.

So drink a toast (your round): “To getting plastered”.


 Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014



I am guest poet spot at the SPIN gig next Wednesday, 4th June 2014.

SPIN is a monthly poetry and music open mic night at the Ripple & Swirl Cafe, 14 The Esplanade, Christies Beach, on the first Wednesday of the month from 6.30pm – 9.00pm.

Admission is $5.00 / $4.00 concession

There is also an open mic. for poets and musicians.

Food is available by pre-order if required and the venue is licensed.

Further details are available at the  SPIN Facebook page  or contact the SPIN organisers by email:


Christies Beach



On Sunday I took part in the “March in May” demonstration in Adelaide, from Victoria Square to State Parliament. There were marches all over the country, protesting against the Abbott governments budget cuts to health, education, pensions, the ABC, and any other sector you care to name which Abbott does not like. The Murdoch media, predictably, was dismissive. The Sunday Telegraph headline was “The Ferals are Revolting”. Clearly the reporter had not noted the broad cross-section of Australian society represented by the demonstrators: school children, teenagers, parents, grand parents – every age group and every walk of life. Abbott has succeeded where Labor had failed – he has re-mobilised those who believe in a progressive Australia.

In the evening, coincidentally, I watched a gripping documentary called “The Square”, which happened to be about political demonstrators gathering in another square:  Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011. The documentary tracks four or five participant in the demonstrations: a Muslim, a couple of young activists, a singer and an actor Khalid Abdalla, who starred in “The Kite Runner”. The demonstrations led to the overthrow of the oppressive Mubarak regime, only to see it replaced by brutal military rule. They then forced the end of military rule to see it replaced by the rule of Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Again they forced the end of Morsi’s regime in 2013.

It is an incredible insight into a complex situation, which I had barely understood before. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 100% and describes it as “… an immersive experience, transporting the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news”. You can watch the whole film on the net here and here.

I took some quotes from the film and, with some minor alterations, have combined them into a sort of collage:


The Square

They will take you away

for dreaming the wrong dream


The rich don’t demand freedom

Because they already have it


They made two ballot boxes

One for the killers

One for the traitors


We are not looking for a leader

We are looking for a conscience


Religion is not in a book or on paper

Religion is in your head and your heart


They are gassing the hospitals

Even the doctors are dying


The good and free are called traitors

The traitors are called heroes


The Square united us all


© Mike Hopkins 2014, except for quotes from "The Square"


Two days left. Funny that I feel more creative on a Tuesday than a Monday. This idea has been brewing for a while, but not put into words until today. I’m sure the line between success and failure, between normality and madness, between comfort and destitution, is  a very narrow one.

I could yet turn into …

one of those seedy blokes
scurrying from bin to bin
with red blue tartan bag
and barbeque tongs
fishing out return deposit cans

one of those skinny blokes
on an ex postie bike
a stolen red milk crate
tied on the back
with occie straps

one of those menacing blokes
camped in the corner of a pub
nursing a cheap beer
rounding on his fellow drinkers
with spittle and blasphemy

one of those doleful blokes
in stained track suit pants
held up with string
imploring with cardboard
“no job, please help”

one of those unnerving blokes
cycling around town
old helmet askew
straps undone
squawking ”Beep! Beep!”

one of those medieval blokes
bare, mud caked feet
army surplus great-coat
and matted mane
camping on parkland benches

one of those try-hard old blokes
pony tailed, leather waistcoated
Woody Guthrie sloganned guitar
croaking to the shoppers
“This is your land”

a misjudged step
a misplaced hope
a market failure
a malignant presence

but then again

I could carry on
going through the motions
holding the line
dressing the window
with collar, cuffs and poetry


© Mike Hopkins 2014

no more gaps

I spent most of today fixing up cracked walls, cornices and tiles in the house I used to live in. It was the family home. Soon it will be going up for sale and open for inspection. In Adelaide, most homes on the plains suffer from cracking, due to the expansion and contraction of our clay soils. Our cracks are not too bad, compared to many and can be fairly easily filled using a product called “No More Gaps”.


No More Gaps

Hunting down the imperfections

the spider vein fractures


the crack between

what is and what was


the lifting surface under foot

which rises again no matter

how hard you stamp it down


the mismatched touches

of gloss and flat


the worn facade

exposing the ageing frame


feeling with

split fingertips


putting in the fix

concealing the damage.


Laying open

for inspection.


© Mike Hopkins 2014


I’ve had this poem in the back of my mind for nearly a year. Back in June 2013, I was in Ireland and caught up with an old mate, Paddy Walsh, whom I hadn’t seen for over 20 years. I mentioned to him that I write poetry these days, and he immediately cast his eyes up to the ceiling, and gave me a great rant about how he’s sick to death of poets, how useless they are, how they think they know everything and do nothing etc. etc. It was one of the great rants – he’s very good at them. (By the way, this was before the death of Seamus Heaney).

I had to tell him that there was more than a grain of truth in his views in my experience.

In an email to me later he continued in the same vein, much to my amusement:

Honest to Jaysus whenever poets get on to the radio ( like every day!!) here they really piss me off – they know it all – experts on the economy, political situation – you name it , they have the answer, and it always revolves around them and their writings and their fuckin egos!! Maybe it’s Ireland ( but from what you observed – not so!) – Heaney is NEVER out of the papers and other media. I’m sure even he’s pissed off being so adored!!

(I’ve removed a few of the expletives Paddy)

Then recently I came across a Kit Wright poem: “Everybody hates the English”. This prompted me to knock the two ideas together and I came up with “Everybody Hates Poets”. Soon after I wrote it, I performed it in the “Sixty Second Slam” at the Adelaide Fringe, put on by Paroxysm Press. And I won first prize, a cool $100 cash. Thanks Paroxysm.

A theatre reviewer in the audience said it was a “cheekily self-effacing piece”!

So here’s an audio of the poem. Language warning as usual:

Everybody Hates Poets (for Paddy Walsh)

 (after Kit Wright)

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014

Tramstop 6 - South Rd

Back in October, Adelaide based poet and ABC radio presenter, Mike Ladd, ran a workshop to elicit poetry and related ideas for a public art project, at Tram Stop 6, South Road, Adelaide (shown above). This particular tram stop is where the flyover has been built to take the tram over South Road. It is between Glandore and Black Forest tram stops within the City of Marion council area.

Mike and Cathy Brooks previously did a street signs project for Bowen Street:

This time around, they have a billboard sized space under the flyover with a series of panels which will be filled with the contributions of poets and the associated artwork of Cathy Brooks.  Mike took us on a walk to the tram stop where we milled around for thirty minutes with pen and paper desperately trying to think of things to write about. It’s a very grey, concrete space, with lots of traffic noise and functional street furniture. There are railings, staircases, lifts, benches, warning signs (no waiting, no parking etc), bins, cycle lock ups etc. Seemingly not the most inspirational place. But then again, this is the sort of place where some mental distractions might be welcomed by the bored commuter.

The brief was to come up with SHORT pieces: haiku, senryu etc. or any form of less than about 20 words.

I submitted about 10 ideas to Mike and Cathy, and was pleased to hear that they like four of them, which will be part of the installation. It will be interesting to see what sort of artwork Cathy comes up with. I gave her very rudimentary ideas of what was going on in my mind, but she may well take a totally different approach to them.

I won’t pre-empt the installation, which will take place sometime in early 2014. So here are some of my ideas they did NOT accept, but which might still raise a smile. Apologies for the lack of artistic skill in illustrating them.

Peeling passengers

from windswept platforms -

the last tram.

The tram arriving

at stop 6

is ahead of its time

Next stop:

Black Forest

have your cake

and beat it

After the last tram

A rush of chill air

Ghost of a red rattler


The tram departs

she grabs her phone

deletes his number

tram 3

tram 2 


I’m on at the State Library this coming Wednesday, 15th May 2013, with one of my very favourite Adelaide poets, Rob Walker. I can remember first hearing Rob’s work when I started going to Friendly Street, and it immediately struck a chord with me. Here was a bloke about my age, with a similar sense of humour and a similar upbringing. So it is a great thrill to now be on the same stage as him. The MC is another wonderful poet and good friend who has been a fantastic support for me in recent months, Louise Nicholas. The gig is part of Friendly Street Poets Words@Wall series, organised by Jelena Dinic. Rob and I will be doing a sort of renga, where we take turns to read a recently (last 12 months) written poem which in some way has a connection to the poem read by the other. Clear as mud? If you’re in Adelaide, it would be lovely to see you there.

Here are the details:

Friendly Street Poets & the State Library of SA present

Words @ the Wall

Wednesday 15 May 2013

5.30 - 6.15pm

Late afternoon Poetry performances

Treasures Wall, 1st Floor State Library, North Terrace




Mike Hopkins and Rob Walker read recent work


MC: Louise Nicholas


We’d love to see a massive crowd there supporting poetry in South Australia

Light refreshments kindly provided by the State Library.

This is a FREE event

Everyone is welcome


Poem number 30.

I feel like a marathon runner limping over the line. 30 poems in 30 days is a great project, but I am now mentally drained. Here’s the final offering:

Face from the Past

I ran into him in the supermarket.

Older, but still that cocky look.

At first it felt good to see him.


We went to a coffee shop,

recalled memories

of laughs, of late night drinking sessions,

of shared trials and triumphs.


Then he launched into the same speeches

he used to make twenty years ago.


The one about how he hates Adelaide.

(he’s still here)


The one about how all Aborigines are useless

(he’s never actually spent time with one)


The one about how he’s broke

(he’s earned good money all his life)


The one about how women have always taken advantage of him

(he constantly scans the bodies of the young waitresses)


The one about how useless the Labor government is

(he’s spent most of his working life being paid by them)


But the final speech I hadn’t heard before:

how he’d been sacked for harassment

and was now having trouble finding a job.

That was a new one

but somehow it made sense.

Somehow it was all the others rolled into one.


We finished our coffees,

swapped telephone numbers,

promised to catch up for a beer.


I might see him again in another twenty years.


Vote for “Mistaken for a Real Poet” in Best Australian Blogs 2013:


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2013