I need the road

The Road

I’m off to Thailand with my son on Thursday. I’m feeling a strong need to get out of Australia for a while, and this will be just be a short trip.

So maybe in 2014, a longer road trip.

Listen to the wonderful Joolz Denby urging me (and you) on:

Tram Stop 6 Project – the ones that didn’t make it.

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 

Poetry Book Sells Out! That’s a first

The launch of John Pfitzner’s “Voices from the Fire” last Thursday at ELC in Adelaide, was a great success. We printed 150 copies of the book. 120 sold on the night, and the rest have pretty much sold out since then.

To put this into perspective, I was talking to a friend last night, a very accomplished and very good poet, who had his collection launched in Sydney last month. He sold 4 books on the night! If you’re not Seamus Heaney or Simon Armitage, poetry books just don’t sell out.

So for John’s book to sell out within a week is astonishing. A great tribute to the man, his many achievements, the many friends he made in life, and, of course, his skill as a poet.

We are looking at the feasibility of a 2nd print run.

Launch of “Voices from the Fire”

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:


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?’


‘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