Archive for the ‘publications’ Category

Voices from the Fire

When I was Convenor of Friendly Street Poets earlier this year, I initiated a project to get a collection of John Pfitzner’s poetry published. John was a poetry friend, a member of Friendly Street and in particular a fellow member of the Poetica group which met every month in Glenelg under the guidance of Krishan Persaud.

John died suddenly in January this year, having attended a poetry evening at Poets Corner, spending the last evening of his life listening to the great poetry of Alison Flett and Jennifer Liston.

John entered a manuscript entitled “Voices from the Fire” into the Friendly Street Single Poets competition, the prize being the publication of a full collection of work. John didn’t win the competition (that honour went to John Brydon). But nevertheless, the manuscript is the work of a top class poet. So it is only right that it be published, and that it will stand as a tribute to a much loved and multi-talented man.

Cathryn Charnock has done a beautiful job of laying out the book and getting it ready for printing.

I will M.C. the launch on Thursday December 12th 2013 at 7 pm at the Effective Living Centre, King William Road, Adelaide. There will be readings from the book and Sean Gilbert, a long time friend of John’s will give it its official launch. Above is a preview of the cover.

John spent several years in Aboriginal communities and learned to speak the local language. This poem by John, “Tracks”, demonstrates his huge respect for the people he met there:

Tracks

In the late afternoon

as the low desert sun

contours with shadow

the settlement’s red sand

patterned with footprints,

I walk past the Aboriginal man

standing alone

then turn back to ask

if he needs help.

He’s waiting, he says,

to see the storekeeper.

‘This is where he lives,’ I tell him,

‘it’s after knock-off,

he should be home.

Have you knocked?’

No.

‘You can knock,’ I say,

wondering if he knows this custom

or if maybe he’s too shy.

‘He’s not home,’ he says.

Above us, in a gum tree, a crow laments.

‘How do you know no-one’s home,’

I’m drawn to ask,

‘if you haven’t knocked?’

He looks at me,

a hint of a smile.

‘No tracks.’

copyright the Pfitzner family 2013

 

When I was in Ireland back in May/June, I stayed a night in the city of Limerick. I have an elderly aunt who has lived there for probably 60 years or more. When I was a child, we made an almost annual summer school holiday trip from London to Kerry, and would pass through Limerick, sometimes staying overnight. My aunt and her family lived in a small flat in a Georgian terrace in the centre of Limerick, in Thomas Street. Opposite was a pig abattoir.

This time back, the pig abattoir was gone, but there is a pub in Thomas Street now, called “The Blind Pig”. My aunt now lives about a kilometre out of the city.

I visited and read at the monthly “On the Nail” poetry group at The Barge in Limerick. The Limerick Writers Centre was launching edition 26 of it quarterly literary journal “Revival”; a lovely group of people, and I was impressed overall with how much Limerick has changed from the days when it used to be called “Knife City”. Mind you, on my way back from “On the Nail”, there was a punch up in O’Connell Street involving both men and women.

“Revival” publishes poetry from all over the world, not just Ireland. So I was very pleased today to receive in the post edition 27 of “Revival”.  It includes my poem “Complicity”, about my memory of my aunt’s small Thomas Street flat. Here it is:


Complicity

Looking over Limerick

from my aunt’s

third floor flat

 

the first sight

across Thomas Street

is O’Mara’s bacon factory.

 

My stomach heaves

a blood stench

foul faeces reek.

 

Shrill pig terror

distresses my senses

assaults my ears.

 

Warm summer evenings

she opens all the windows

onto the street.

 

My dreams are of

pink bristled carcasses

hanging from hooks

 

twisting in mid air

life ebbing onto sawdust,

sluicing from slit throats.

 

This morning she

places before me

eggs and rashers

 

forbids me to leave

the table until

my plate is clean.

 

I cannot defy her.

Flensing the rind

from the fat

 

stabbing a sliver

of fried flesh into

the exposed yolk

 

I savour

the coral coloured

yellow daubed meat.

 

After breakfast

I am drawn

to the scene of

 

doomed animals

disgorged from

the bowels of trucks

 

wide staring

eyes damning me

for complicity.

copyright Mike Hopkins 2013

… is a smart looking, new, online arts journal, run by some very lovely and talented young Adelaide people.

On the front page at the moment is a nice article about the 2012 State slam final, including the incisive photography of Tanya Jane Brain.

They’ve also published the slam version of my “Adelaide is….” poem. Thanks.

Click below and read, regularly:

 






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My prose poem, “The Collector”, has just been published in the very handsome looking collection “Short and Twisted 2012″.

It is, without doubt, the weirdest poem I’ve ever written. The sort of poem you wouldn’t want your mother to read.

It came to me after running into someone I hadn’t seen for a long time. When I asked her what she was doing these days, she told me she was analysing tissue samples from men with prostate cancer. That, I stress, is where fact ends and weird imagination takes over.

The Collector

I should have seen it coming. She told me she worked in a laboratory, collecting  tissue samples from prostate patients. We hit it off. Went out. Then it started. Innocently at first. An offer to give me a haircut, then a manicure, and a pedicure. After we first slept together she said she preferred circumcised men. Offered to do it for me. I was shocked and resistant but I didn’t want to lose her. She was a trained nurse, could get some gas. I could trust her, and  actually, she did a good job. Neat and clean, no infection. Our sex got even better. But in the kitchen one night, showing me how to slice mangoes, she took the end off my finger. No need for  hospital, she said. Stitched it herself. A week later, looking for ice cubes. I found the fingertip in her freezer, along with my foreskin. And in her chest of drawers, all my hair and nail clippings, neatly dated and labelled. I confronted her over dinner. She admitted it all. Yes, she was a collector. No, she didn’t love me. Yes, she only wanted me for my body. And she would get it. The next thing I knew I was up here on her mantelpiece. A disembodied talking head, alongside half a dozen others. Other parts of me in the salad crisper of her industrial sized Frigidaire. And probably various bits and pieces providing blood and bone to her vegetable patch. So that’s my story. How did you end up here?

Only a week or two after having my poem “Adelaide is…” featured in an ABC radio doco on “the seedy side of the Adelaide literary scene”:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/360/the-poet-stripped-bare/4030782

I received confirmation that my poem “Caution: This Office May Damage Your Health”, was published in the international “Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal”:

http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=17038629&ini=aob

Just goes to show, there’s only the width of a cigarette paper between the gutter and the office.

My poem entitled “Last of the Cat Poems”, has been published by Eureka Street today, paired with fellow Friendly Street poet, Karl Cameron Jackson’s “The Feral Cat”.

You can see the two poems here:

http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=30270

and you can hear them read in the mellifluous tones of Philip Jones, here:

Audio from Eureka Street

And here is the poem itself:

Last of the cat poems

Please, not another cat poem
no more couplets for cuddly companions
unless to recount the leftover birds which litter the lawn
whilst puss sits inside with blood on his claws
and purrs satisfaction

I plead with you desist from that paean to pussy palship
save to summon up that stench in the yard
which neighbourhood moggies love to bombard
with tom spray and cat shit

I beg of you no more veneration of feline affection
but to catalogue each Australian creature
which through cat predation wobbles and teeters
on the edge of extinction

I implore you, no more tributes to Tabby Tom and Persian Cleo
except to decry the midnight caterwauling
the screeches, the wails, the quarrels appalling
below my bedroom window

Not more T. S. Eliot like whimsical narration
unless to promote the wearing of flat cat hats
with fur flaps and tails which help to combat
the proliferating kitty population

No, no not even a moggie haiku
until we bid the last cat in Australia farewell
with a tolling not a tinkling bell
a ding dong dell
an obituary, a eulogy, a remembrance will do

 copyright Mike Hopkins 2012

Believe it or not, there are some poetic moments in accounting, or so I’m told.

At the launch of my collection Mistaken for a Real Poet as part of New Poets 16, Steve Evans heard me read my poem Caution: This Office May Damage Your Health.  Steve is Senior Lecturer in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Flinders University. He is also poetry editor of the journal  Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal (London).  Steve liked the poem and will be publishing it in the journal in the coming months.

The poem was also Poem of the Month for the Friendly Street meeting in Goolwa in April 2010, and published in the Friendly Street Reader 35

Caution – This Office May Damage Your Health

It’s the tea room gossip that irks ya

It stings and blinds ya

With its he said and she said

And you’ll never guess and the bloody

Oh my God! Oh my God!

What was she thinking?

You thought at first they were all dull and grey

But it turns out the place is like a Bangkok brothel

It’s the tea room gossip that irks ya

 

 

It’s the mobile phone ring tones that needles ya

They frazzles and dulls your brain

Bleating from unattended desks

Tinny tones of the latest TV soap theme

Or over and over again some comedy show catch phrase

Possibly mildly amusing the first time

Irritating the second and then increasingly exasperating

Until you swear you’ll bring a sledgehammer in tomorrow

And smash the bloody thing to smithereens

It’s the mobile phone ring tones that needles ya

 

 

It’s the meetings that drives ya to distraction

They numbs and deadens ya

The ‘purely for decorative purposes’ agenda

The action items never to be actioned

The head spinning pointless Powerpoints

With ballistic bullets and apoplectic arrows

Meaningless as a mission statement

And sleep inducing presenters talking to the wall

It’s the meetings that drives ya to distraction

 

 

But it’s the clichés that finally does ya head in

They blisters and rips ya

As you’re listening to a heads up about world’s best practice

Getting incentivized to leap from behind the 8 ball

Through a 24 by 7 window of opportunity

Into a whole new ball game on a level playing field

Moving forward, at the end of the day

In this rapidly changing globalised environment

Yes it’s the clichés that finally does ya head in

© Mike Hopkins 2011
Craven Cottage

Craven Cottage

Quite a lot, sometimes, especially if you spent large parts of your teenage years standing on the cold, concrete terraces of a struggling football club in London in the 1960s.

The poem was published in New Poets 16, and recently in There’s Only One F in Fulham, the club’s fanzine run by David Lloyd.

The Wind off the Thames

Winter Saturday afternoon 1960s London
the tube to Hammersmith station
electric magnetic acrid ozone
escalate from underground below the flyover
two miles walking redbrick backstreets
two shillings entry to

struggling Fulham football club
the riverside stand terraced with men
in solitary union, a fug of damp overcoats
sweat, cigarette smoke, Brylcreemed heads
sweet scalding tea, steak and kidney pies
fortify against the wind cutting off the water

another loss to a better team, in my despond
spill from a desolate stadium to trudge
the lonely drag back home
envy others starting out early evening
more human, rewarding, alliances, affinities
than devotion to a football team

40 years later on the far side of the world
unable to sleep I rise to watch
an internet stream a pixellated view
an all seater covered stadium
smoking forbidden, pomaded hair passé
but the same disappointment

I return to a bed as cold
as the chill wind off the Thames

© Mike Hopkins 2011

This poem won second prize at Salisbury Writers’ Week in 2010.  It recounts an incident I observed at Brownhill Creek, a lovely little reserve not far from where I live. Alongside the road which runs through the reserve are a few hobby farms.

Incident at Brownhill Creek

On the hobby farm

the man looks fondly on his flock

the dog looks up to the man

the dog looks down on the flock

the man crouches next to one of the sheep

runs his hands through its fleece

the sheep likes this

the dog thinks this is not quite right, growls disapproval

the man playfully pushes the sheep from side to side

the sheep likes this

rolls over, much like a dog

the man is amused

the dog thinks this inappropriate, barks displeasure

the man pats the sheep’s stomach

the sheep likes this

throws its head back, wriggles with joy

the man is delighted

the dog thinks this is outrageous, runs around yelping his fury

the man comes to his senses

looks at the dog sheepishly

the dog looks at the man sternly, nips the ankle of the sheep

steers it back to the flock, returns to sit by the man’s heel

looks up to the man

order is restored

© Mike Hopkins 2011

Is a blog by Mike Hopkins, who was, once, mistaken for that famous Australian poet, Mike Ladd, and whose poem, “Being Mike Ladd”, is included in the collection recently published (April 2011) by Wakefield Press, in the Friendly Street New Poets series:

Friendly Street New Poets 16

Friendly Street New Poets 16

Here is the poem:

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Being Mike Ladd

“Are you Mike?”, said the lady organiser of the poetry gathering, as I walked through the door

“Yes” I replied, slightly puzzled as to how she knew my name

“Oh I AM an admirer of your poetry” she gushed

I struggled to place her, was sure I had not met her before

My work must have been circulating spontaneously

Maybe it’s something to do with the internet.

Half finished poems on my C drive slithering their way to the modem

And working their way around Adelaide, seeking out like minded poetic souls

And saying “Here I am, the work of an underrated, undiscovered talent”

Being read without my knowledge at open readings

Performed at poetry slams by voluptuous women who sigh at the beauty of my words

And dream of meeting the author

Or maybe an acquaintance covertly compiled a slim compendium of my works

And submitted it to Faber and Faber

Who eagerly accepted it and printed a first run of 1,000 copies

Of which only a few remain on the shelves of Angus and Robertson

Having been sold out at Borders

I wonder when I will receive my royalty cheque

And my invitation to Writers’ Week?

My reverie was broken by a stir in the doorway behind me

A man of similar build, but a touch younger, a tad more hair, a far more poetic bearing

A bevy of admirers surrounded him

The lady organiser looked at me accusingly

Marked me down as an impostor

Never again will I be mistaken for a real poet.

©Mike Hopkins 2011