Archive for the ‘adelaide’ Category

Poem number 16 for April 2015. Possums regularly wake me at night. (great night at Langmeil. Will report tomorrow).

Drop Ins

no possums invading

my backyard last night

no vampire hissing

no fresh scattering

of chocolate drop droppings

along the path

no clod hop bounding

 across the roof

nor crash landing

on the neighbour’s fence

no scritch nail fighting

along the path

 

just the                                distant                  sound

 

of freeway air brakes

 

and the mournful            two

 

in            the         morning

cuckoo

 

 

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem number 15 for April 2015. Following on from poem #7, or rather finishing it off. As noted, I’m not a fan of bush poetry.  Tonight (Wednesday 15th April) I’m a guest poet at “Poets and Platters” at Langmeil winery in the Barossa Valley. There is a well-known bush poet also on the programme. Last time I heard him, he was (tongue in cheek) ridiculing vegetarians, with some hackneyed lines about mung beans and rabbit food. Being a vegetarian myself, I didn’t laugh, though most of the audience did. I’ll return the (tongue in cheek) ridicule with this tonight. A world premiere!  As he’s after me on the running list, he’ll probably have the last laugh.

Last of the Bush Poems (completed – well first draft anyway)

A poem needed writing

for to please the winery push

and me usual stuff looked wanting

they might think a load of tosh

so I looked for inspiration

laid some thoughts for incubation

and I sought for information

on the poetry of the bush

 

First I grabbed an old akubra

then I dropped me accent posh

And I drank til in a stupor

and neglected for to wash

I dragged out some corny punchline

about vegans, sheilas, waistlines

and I read up all the guidelines

on the poetry of the bush

 

I bought a new Land Cruiser

You won’t catch me near a horse

Then I bought a new computer

Wikipedia is the source

Of all me information

About swags, and sheep and stations

Coz I get the palpitations

When I’m in the bloody bush

 

I drove down the supermarket

To stock up on bush supplies

I bought string and corks from Target

for me hat to ward off flies

softest swag and new Drize-a-bone

gas-powered fridge and satellite phone

I was well prepared to leave home

to write poetry in the bush

 

When I reached the wilds of Salisbury

Well me nose began to bleed

and the dusty paddocks scared me

when I saw some sheep stampede

So I stopped near Gawler Oval

dumped me swag and asked some yokels

Where’s the nearest comfy hotel

That serves beer here in the bush?

 

When I saw the pub landlady

well meself I introduced

as a widely known bush poet

who could keep her crowd amused

for fifty bucks and free beer

I recited in her front bar

I was feeling like a film star

so the lady I seduced

 

Now I’ll go back to the city

And no longer will I roam

I’ve memorized me ditties

and acquired a bush man’s drone

And me poems I’ll deliver

Like the man from Snowy River

Coz I get the sweats and shivers

If I’m ever near the bush.

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem number 7 for April 2015. I’m not a fan of bush poetry, or at least not in large doses. Next week (Wednesday 15th April) I’m a guest poet at “Poets and Platters” at Langmeil winery in the Barossa Valley. I suspect the audience may be bush poetry fans, so I thought I’d better write something which will appeal to them. This is the start of a bush poem which I will do more work on, and hopefully deliver next week.

Last of the Bush Poems

A poem needed writing

for to please the winery push

and my usual stuff looked wanting

they might think a load of tosh

so I looked for inspiration

laid some thoughts for incubation

and I sought for information

on the poetry of the bush


First I grabbed an old akubra

then I dropped me accent posh

And I drank til in a stupour

and neglected for to wash

I dragged out some corny punchlines

about sheilas, poofs and waistlines

and I read up all the guidelines

on the poetry of the bush


So I bought a new Land Cruiser

You won’t catch me near a horse

Then I bought a new computer

Wikipedia is the source

Of all my information

About swags, and sheep and stations

Coz I get the palpitations

When I’m in the bloody bush


I drove down the supermarket

To stock up on bush supplies

I bought string and corks from Target

for my hat to ward off flies

softest swag and new Drize-a-bone

gas powered fridge and satellite phone

I was well prepared to leave home

to write poetry in the bush

When I reached the wilds of Salisbury

Well my nose began to bleed

Gawler’s fields were scary

And I saw some sheep stampede

So I stopped at Gawler Oval

Pitched my swag and asked some locals

Where’s the nearest comfy hotel

That serves beer here in the bush?

… to be continued

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem number 6 for April 2015. I’m reading the epic book “2666” by Roberto Bolaño. I’d say I’ve nearly finished it, but I still have about 150 pages to go. It’s a 900 page book. I’m not sure if it’s a work of genius, as some say, or an overly long ramble in need of severe editing. I’ll post a review when I’ve finished it. What’s for certain is that there is some stunning language in the book. And when you consider that Bolano was Chilean, and that it was written in Spanish, this seems to me to be even more impressive.

For today’s poem, I’ve taken some phrases, fragments from one part of the book, and played with them, to turn them into something that resembles a poem. Most of the words are Bolano’s. A large part of the book is concerned with an epidemic of murders of women in Mexico, called in Spanish feminicidio (“feminicide”), in a fictional town called Santa Teresa. In the real life northern Mexican region of Ciudad Juárez it is estimated that 370 women and girls were murdered between 1993 and 2005.

2666 – Poem uno 1

 

Where six roads meet

and buses head in all directions

my driver waits like an undertaker

 

A makeshift market

An old woman selling pineapples.

Out of politeness I buy one

 

In an island of light past the shacks

giant butterflies dance like cripples

reminding me of a sunset years ago

 

The streetlights bathe me in an aura of haste

My breath smells of scorched oil

I hear accordion music on the wind

 

She was a legend invented by inmates

I think I hear her laughter

like a prisoner’s nightmare.

 

I find her on the outskirts

behind the hundred year old walls

Her dyed hair curtains her face

 

Her skin is empty now

as if she has been drained of everything

except absolute fear

 

All that is left is a crater

the prisoners, the jailers, gone

“Don’t push your luck boss” says the driver

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem number 5 for April 2015. At Port Adelaide Fisherman’s Wharf market today, there was a particularly grumpy man selling very cool looking toy steam boats. He claims that nobody else has them, but I’m pretty sure it’s the same as the one in the youtube video above. He has a sign saying “Don’t hassle the boat” – but I think it really means “don’t bother me unless you’re going to give me cash”.

It’s had a hard day

puttering around

the washing up bowl

 

Do not take photographs of the boat

 

Unless you are going

to buy one or at least

something from my stall

 

Do not interrupt me reading my newspaper

 

I can’t be bothered telling you

about my fascinating boat

unless of course you buy one

 

Do not think you can find a boat like this anywhere else

 

You won’t. I’m the only person in the world

who has them and I’m pretty sure

you don’t deserve to have one too.

 
Postscript:
For a far more poetic view of the visit to Port Adelaide, see here:

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

The West Stage at Adelaide Writers' Week - Helen Garner's Talk

I took time off work to got to Adelaide Writers’ Week 2015. I went in every day, though I don’t have the attention span or the stamina to last the full day. Generally I stayed for two to three hours.

Only when you attend an overseas Writers’ Week do you really appreciate how good the Adelaide event is. Firstly, it’s entirely free. Pick from over 100 presentations by leading writers, and you don’t have to pay a cent. Even the programme is now free. Go to an equivalent event  overseas and you can find yourself paying anything up to twenty-five dollars per presentation.  Secondly, it’s a stunning setting. the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden is a lovely spot, close to the city centre, but secluded enough to feel like you’re in another world.  Thirdly, March in Adelaide generally brings beautiful weather, and this year it was mostly mid 20s celsius for the whole week.

The result is that the event is very well attended, the audiences are appreciative, the sun shines and for a few days you can pretend that Australia really values culture and intellect and that the arts are an important part of everyday life. There are two stages, with events lasting 45 minutes from 9:30 am finishing at 6 pm. The writers aren’t all household names, but that’s the joy of it – you can listen in to writers you’ve never heard of and find yourself captivated by them, and noting them down for your future reading list. Or if you don’t find them interesting you can wander over to the other stage to see who’s talking there.

A few observations:

Julia Gillard – our ex-PM got a rapturous reception from her hometown crowd, and it must be good for her soul to feel the love after all the hate she got from Abbott and Murdoch. However, it still felt to me like a rather wooden Julia. The programme promised a ‘revealing and enlightening conversation’. Not really.

Hugh Mackay – Australia’s leading social researcher talking about the lack of ‘community’ and ‘belonging’ in Australia. He advised older Australians not to leave their suburban backyards for a tree or sea-change, whilst admitting that he’s done exactly that. I think he’s fallen into the trap that every generation does of criticising the younger generation for not being community minded enough. You could see lots of grey heads nodding in agreement as he criticised the over use of Facebook and phones. I don’t agree. I think these things are just tools which you can use to increase or decrease community attachment, as you wish.

Nicholas Clements – made some interesting points about the way that Australian history has been manipulated by both sides for political purposes, rather than being focussed on documenting what actually happened. His book “The Black Wars’ looks like a very worthwhile read about the genocide of Tasmania’s aboriginal population.

Miranda Richmond Mouillot – the fascinating story of her grandparents and how they escaped the Nazi occupation of France, but how it irrevocably affected their relationship; in particular the effect on her grandfather of being one of the first ever simultaneous translators – he worked on the Nuremberg trials, translating the evidence of the very German war criminals who had persecuted his family.

Poetry Reading – with Barry Hill, Anne Kennedy, Omar Musa, Sam Wagan-Watson and Ian Wedde. It’s a bit unfair to put ‘page poets’ on the same stage as such a brilliant performance poet as Omar Musa. Sam Wagan Watson and Anne Kennedy were still able to cut through to the audience. I didn’t feel Barry Hill or Ian Wedde did. Just my opinion of course.

Cate Kennedy – poet and fiction writer. She finished with what, for me, was probably the highlight of the week, a new poem about a school function where a father watches his disabled boy taking part in a limbo. Stunning poem.

Willy Vlautin – is a singer and novelist. He doesn’t read his work very well, but he speaks as if he is sitting next to you in a seedy bar in Reno, about war and the effect on working class American men. Could listen to him all day.

Helen Garner – speaking mostly about her great book “This House of Grief” which I read last year.

Jerry Pinto – what a character. This Indian author should give motivational speeches to people with writer’s block. He is hilarious and charismatic, and manages at the same time to talk movingly about his mother’s mental illness.

Antony Lowenstein – talked persuasively about the vested interests in war, prisons, detention centres; firms like G4 and Serco and Haliburton which make billions around the world from wars and from incarcerating people. God, how depressing. He also spoke about Palestine and the brutal colonisation by Israel. ‘Disaster capitalism,’ gives a name to a concept I was vaguely aware of – the way in which big companies make billions out of natural disasters, war and aid.

David Marr – never been a great fan of David’s. I felt he did a hatchet job on Kevin Rudd at a time when Murdoch and Abbott were doing the same thing. He (Marr) comes across in person as a bit too smug and self-admiring for my liking.

I was looking forward to hearing about Max Harris from his biographer, Betty Snowden, and daughter, Samela Harris. Unfortunately Peter Goers was determined to talk over the top of them, rather than encourage them to speak – so I moved to the other stage, where Don Watson appeared to have run out of energy and enthusiasm – and I could still hear Goers booming out from the other stage. Shame.

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2014

pleasureandpain

Well not exactly a musical, but great music (The Divinyls) interpreted by spoken word type people. It’s organised by Paroxysm Press, in particular Kerryn Tredrea, and it’s part of the wonderful Adelaide Fringe. 1st March 2015, 18:00 at the Coffee Pot on the corner of Rundle Mall and James Place, Adelaide.

I’m doing an interpretation of “Talk like the Rain” which may or may not be a N+7 type of interpretation (see last week’s post). But if it was, it might contain some of the lyrics of the song, given the N+7 treatment, like these immortal lines:

 

I got lubricant………..lubricant enough to see the whole deaconess through 

I got sensitivity……….. sensitivity enough 

To know when something’s through 

 

I’ve got tincture………..  tincture enough 

To work thoraxes out 

And I want yooooooooou 

 

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah!

  

I’ve got………..  arses……….. I’ve got………..  lesbians 

I’ve got handicrafts……….. to hold you 

I don’t have to run……….. I don’t have to hillock 

And I don’t have to keep………..  everything………..  everything inside 

 

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

 

 

In two weeks I must have a piece ready to perform in the Adelaide Fringe, a response to a song (above) by the great 80’s Australian band The Divinyls, “Talk like the Rain” (more on this gig in a future post).

Scratching around for ideas, I’ve been struggling for inspiration. Nothing new there. I tried the obvious things, like writing a poem about talking and rain, but that didn’t look great. Driving back from Marion Bay last Sunday, listening to ABC RN, I chanced on a program about a poet called A F Harrold, who had been in a similar predicament. He had to read a poem at a musical event, and he didn’t play an instrument. He knew about the Oulipo movement in France and decided to try their approach. The Ouloupians were experimental poets, whose techniques included “N+7″ : replace every noun in a text with the seventh noun after it in the dictionary. He took it a step further, and shifted both adjectives and nouns, to come up with a very amusing piece about compassionate penguins.

This sounds promising. I’ve tried it out with mixed results. Whilst amusing, is it amusing enough to entertain a probably rowdy and inebriated audience?

To give you an idea, here’s Yeats’ famous poem “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”, given the Ouloupian treatment. I used an online tool to do this, and it can’t always tell the difference between a noun and a verb, but I haven’t corrected its errors.

First of all N+7:

Aedh Witnesses for the Clowns of Hedgerow

Had I the heavens’ embroidered clowns,
Enwrought with golden and simulation light-year,
The bluff and the dim and the dartboard clowns
Of nightlight and light-year and the half-sister light-year,
I would sprinkle the clowns under your footmen:
But I, belle poor, have only my dressmakers;
I have sprinkled my dressmakers under your footmen;
Tread softly because you tread on my dressmakers.

But I think my favourite is N+8:

Aedh Witticisms for the Clubs of Heed

Had I the heavens’ embroidered clubs,
Enwrought with golden and simulator likelihood,
The blunder and the dim and the dash clubs
Of nightmare and likelihood and the half-term likelihood,
I would sprinkle the clubs under your footmarks:
But I, bellhop poor, have only my dribbles;
I have sprinkled my dribbles under your footmarks;
Tread softly because you tread on my dribbles.

Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

timeslongruin

Time’s Long Ruin
by Stephen Orr

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

How can you make a story “gripping” when the outcome is well known? Somehow Stephen Orr manages to achieve this. Many Australians, especially Adelaideans, know about the Beaumont children. This book is loosely based on their story, with some significant changes, the most obvious being names and exact locations. Nevertheless, the incident on which the story is based is unmistakable to most Australians over the age of 40.

Orr recasts the story, from the point of view of the next door neighbour and best friend of the children, who is now adult, looking back on his childhood. The boy’s father also happens to be a police detective, which allows Orr to provide a full picture of the police investigation.

The book beautifully re-creates a suburban community in the 1960s. This is its strength really, and you learn as much about life in that small part of Adelaide as you do about the children themselves.

There are parallel threads running through the book: the family lives of the boy, of his neighbours, of the railway crossing operator, of the local chiropractor. Orr paints their lives with great warmth and insight.

It’s a very good book indeed: both as a gripping page turner, but also as a historical perspective on what may have been a turning point in Australian society – the point at which trust and community began to disappear.

My only criticism is that perhaps the book is a bit long. Then again, I was never tempted to skip over sections.

Highly recommended

View all my reviews

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