Poets, Pizza, Crowd-Sourced Poetry and Requests

Last night (Friday 17th Jan 2020), I performed in the beautiful new pavilion at Coriole Winery, overlooking the majestic McLaren Vale vineyards. A large and raucous crowd, fuelled by the excellent Coriole wines and fed by pizza from the newly constructed pizza oven, gave a warm reception to me, Sarah-Jane Justice, Emilia Haskey and Alison Bennett. The evening was MCd by the lovely Jude Aquilina who interspersed the performances with poems of her own and of others, including a new and very moving one to her partner Brenton, who had been fighting the bushfires on Kangaroo Island.

I tried something completely different as part of my set last night. I distributed clip boards amongst the crowd and asked them to write one liners about behaviours that make them want to shout “Selfish Bastards” at other people. I thought I might get one or two suggestions or none at all, but was inundated with contributions. Clearly there are a lot of selfish bastards out there. At the end of my set I incorporated most of these lines into my “Selfish Bastards” poem. It was a lot of fun. There were lewd, rude, funny and insightful lines from the audience. Just a  few of my favourites:

“People who holiday in Hawaii”

“People who dump me Xmas Eve (fuck you Dan)”

“People who don’t believe in climate change”

“People who think sex ends when they’ve orgasmed”

“Carnivores who eat all the vegetarian pizzas”

“People who’s mobile phones ring during poetry readings”

“People who know they’ve had more pizza than the rest of us but keep on eating it” (with accompanying diagram!)

Anyway, the poem itself went down well, and the whole evening was great fun. Many thanks to Jude Aquilina for the invite and to the wonderful management and staff at Coriole Winery for hosting the event. If you’re ever in McLaren Vale, pay them a visit, not just because they support the arts, but also because they are lovely people, their wine is world-class and the winery is such a beautiful spot.

Two people asked me for copies of poems I read which are not yet published, so I thought the easiest thing to do would be to put them here on the blog where they can access them and pass them onto friends. One is my sensitive little love poem to Donald Trump (for Tom from Norfolk – have fun in India). The other is my take on Philip Larkin’s “This be the Verse”, mine being titled “This be the ReVerse”, for Margret without an “a” – hope your children are the ones you deserve.

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Donald Trump, I Love You Man

Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

Your orange skin face and your bright golden hair

Your peppermint breath and your predators glare

Your hair surfs your head from one side to the other

like a baby hamster in search of its mother

I love how you hold up your neat thumb and finger

like you’re summoning thoughts through the hole in your sphincter



Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

I love the way you don’t read no books

You got all your wisdom from working with crooks

No need for long words, no speech hi falutin

Your message is simple, just trust Mr. Putin

We trust you’re the man to clean up this mess

We don’t trust you more but we distrust you less



 

Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

You’ll keep those illegals from crossing our borders

with their nachos and tacos and cheap Margaritas

You’ll build a huge wall and you’ll send them the bill

and if they don’t pay you’ll nuke them to hell.

Real ‘mericans will get the great jobs that they do

Like mowing the lawn and cleaning your loo



 

Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

I’ve heard the fake news of your sexual disgrace

with cute Russian hookers who piss on your face

And the stuff about groping and grabbing of pussy

Your businesses bankrupt, your real estate dodgy

But you wouldn’t waggle your horny old trumpet

In Russian hotels, with weak bladdered strumpets



 

Oh Donald Trump, I love you man

You say you can see that the future is dark

some say that’s because your head’s up your arse

You did it the hard way, you started with nowt

Apart from your billionaire Daddy’s hand out

You’re not polite and you’re not genteel

And you pulled off the greatest old snake oil deal

that’s why, Donny baby, our love is for real.

That’s why Donald Trump, I truly, madly, deeply love you man


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This Be The ReVerse

after Philip Larkin’s “This Be The Verse”

 

They fuck you up your sons and daughters

They mean to, yes of course they do.

They blame you when they shouldn’t ought to

Denying all that you hold true.



 

And we fucked up our Mums and Dads,

Complained of absence and neglect.

Our rebel instincts drove them mad,

We thought them gormless, dull, inept.



 

We place the blame on those before.

We pass the parcel in reverse.

But here’s a truth you can’t ignore:

You get the children you deserve.





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Copyright Mike Hopkins 2020

To everyone who has given to us in anyway since our place burned

Words of gratitude from bushfire victims Belinda and Ervin

Belinda Broughton

How can we thank you enough? 

If ever I had doubts about the hearts of others, about generosity of spirit, or pure love, I have no doubts now. It is incredibly humbling to be on the receiving end of such openness of spirit, and we can’t thank you all enough.  

Beautiful Hearts, thank you for helping us, for digging into your pockets, your wardrobes, your art supplies (among other things) to help us. On Friday the first payment from GoFundMe came through. It is a relief. And while the insurance has not given us the final go ahead, it looks like it will go ahead, though typically, it is far too small. 

And talking of insurance, I urge you to look carefully at your policies. Those of you who are in fire zones, remember that if you have to rebuild, the cost of building a house, wherein the largest diameter…

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Poets and Pizza – Coriole Winery – Friday 17th January 2020

 

I’m delighted to be appearing at Coriole’s Poets and Pizza event on Friday 17th January 2020 at 6:30 pm. It’s a stunning location in McLaren Vale. Coriole make some of the best wine on the planet and the crowd are always boisterous and out for a fun night.

Tickets are $35 a head, which includes pizza. Booking in advance recommended because the event has regularly sold out in the past.

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Poets and Pizza

Coriole has been celebrating and supporting South Australian poets since 2005 with the Poets and Pizza event.
Come indulge in a raucous evening of poetry, great company, wood fired pizza and wines by Coriole.
For this event we welcome Jude Aquilina, Emelia Haskey, Sarah Jane Justice, Alison Paradoxx and Mike Hopkins.
On Friday 17 January 2020 at 6:30pm

LOCATION

Coriole Vineyards
Chaffeys Road, McLaren Vale, SA 5171

Book here

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various angles

The personal aftermath of fire

Belinda Broughton

People who have lost people
People who have lost their possessions
People who have lost their homes
Their buildings 
Their livelihoods
Their sheds of hay
Their orchards and vineyards
People who have buried animals
Nurses of both people and animals
Fire fighters and the families of fire fighters
Those who are ok but are shit scared
People who have lost the places where they go for solace
their sacred spaces
The community of individuals who witnessed it
The list goes on

Healing trauma takes a long time
People don’t want platitudes 
They don’t want encouraging stories of other people’s survival
They don’t want stories of how hard your or other people’s lives have been
They want practical action, a sense of hope
They need to be witnessed 
They need to be heard
in their own time 
and in their own way
They want to hold their hurt in their hearts…

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Three Lists written at 2:00 AM the night after we found out we’d lost Nearly Everything

Two lists after the fire.

Belinda Broughton

List of Lost Objects that matter now.
None of them. 

List of things lost that I’m sad about:
Bob the bird. (Shrike Thrush) whom Ervin fed, and whom we loved. 
All of the other birds, especially the small ones. Wrens, thornbills, pardalotes, finches. Maybe the bigger ones got out? 
Native animals, our resident echidna. 
Ervin’s sculptures and woodblock prints. 
All of my on-paper haiga.
My hand made paintbrushes and a couple of comercial brushes that still sang at forty years old. 
The singing bowls. My shaman’s drum. 
All of Ervin’s framed works and prints in boxes. A lot of his negatives. The ones I didn’t scan. 
Our new pigment printer. 
My hut. His studio. Our little house in the woods. 
The woods. 
The records of our toys ( that we made for a living for thirty years).
My jewellery, mostly worthless, but especially the ones made by friends. Ida for…

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chronology of a displacement

My friends Belinda and Ervin lost their home in the fires this week. Here are Belinda’s thoughts

Belinda Broughton

View from Lobethal Bakery. Later it burnt to the very edge of the town and was only held back by the vigilance of firefighters. Our place is just a ridge from the flames to the right.

On the morning of Friday 20th the electricity went off. Two fire engines went past. Looked on internet, saw fire very close. Packed the computers, a few coats, his camera kit, some important files, and random sundry items. Drove out with car and van, went back for his walking sticks. We did a sort of stop start journey, realising each time that we were still too close, eventually ending up at my daughter’s place (much to her relief). Watched the CFS maps with our hearts in our mouths.

Drove up home on Saturday 21th, with son and daughter. Were let through the closed roads by police. Hope in the main Street because it looked…

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Book Review: “No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison” by Behrouz Boochani

No Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus PrisonNo Friend But the Mountains: Writing from Manus Prison by Behrouz Boochani

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amongst the many shocking and astonishing things about this book, is that Boochani wrote it secretly in Farsi on a mobile phone which he had to keep hidden from the prison guards. He sent thousands of PDF files using Whatsapp to his translator Dr Omid Tofighian.

Perhaps even Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton would have to agree that it is miraculous that the end-result is such a cohesive, detailed, persuasive, poetic narrative. But then again, if Morrison and Dutton ever read books, this one would be bottom of their list, because it is a damning indictment of their immigration policies and their inhumanity.

Boochani is a Kurd. He was a member of the Kurdish Democratic party which is outlawed in Iran, and of the National Union of Kurdish Students. As a result he was watched closely by the Iranian authorities. The first part of the book describes Boochani’s time in Indonesia and then two attempts to come to Australia by boat, almost dying in the process. Boochani then gives a detailed, sickening description of what he calls the Kyriarchal system imposed on the asylum seekers in Manus – a system built around domination, oppression, and submission. Everything that might give the asylum seekers any sense of humanity, dignity or self-respect is denied them. The system requires detainees to queue for hours or days for everything – food, cigarettes, telephones, medical attention, anti-malarials. The queues pit man against man. Generators are turned off in the intense heat to keep the men exhausted. The toilets and showers are like open sewers. Self-harm is prevalent. Fights break out regularly over minor issues. Huge mosquitoes feast on their exposed flesh. Any attempt to buck the system is met with brutality from the Australian security guards and even the locals, the ‘Papus’. In short, Manus is a living-hell.

There can be no justification for the way Australia treats asylum-seekers. To drive men mad in these conditions, with the supposed justification that it will prevent others from risking their lives at sea is a thin cover. In reality, ever since John Howard, the Australian Government has exploited racism in Australia for electoral advantage. Asylum seekers are a convenient distraction from the corruption and nepotism that the Government gets away with on a daily basis. The Australian media, even the ABC, is mostly a cheerleader for these policies.

The words “important book” have been bandied around a lot recently, but this really does deserve that nomenclature. Surely nobody who reads it can ever again support Australia’s asylum seeker policies.

View all my reviews

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Copyright Mike Hopkins 2019

Gig: Wednesday 2nd October 2019 at The Wheatsheaf Hotel.

NW OCT

The monthly No Wave readings are a sort of heir to the long-running Lee Marvin readings which stopped a few years ago. Curated by Dom Symes, Banjo James and Olivia De Zilva, they usually feature four invited poets. Each poet reads for ten minutes with a break between the second and third readers. The Wheatsheaf is a great pub, serving a wide selection of their own and other micro-brewery beers, wines and spirits. Always a nice buzz at these readings. Get along if you can. $5 entry.

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Book Review: “Grief is the Thing with Feathers” by Max Porter

Grief is the Thing with FeathersGrief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a poetic story of the process of grieving. None of the characters are named: a man, a woman who has just died, two young sons and the presence, in the man’s psyche at least, of a crow. Each brief chapter is from the point of view of one of the characters. Also looming large in the background is Ted Hughes, about whom the man is writing a book. Hughes’ “Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow”, has likely been central to the man’s literary history. This is a short but very intense story of a man and his sons, much disturbed by the death of the most important woman in their lives, and their process of returning from the pit of despair to ‘normality’. It is written in short, imagistic, disjointed chapters with sections which are more poetry than prose.

A moving and brilliantly conceived experimental approach to the important subject of grief.

View all my reviews

Instapoetry

PM5a

I did a short workshop on Instapoetry with Kate Larsen recently, at the Guildhouse in Adelaide. Kate is / was artist in residence at ART WORKS. From her bio:

Kate Larsen is an Adelaide writer, arts manager and non-profit/cultural consultant. One of Australia’s best-known social media poets, her alter ego Katie Keys (or @tinylittlepoems) has written and posted a daily poem on Twitter or Instagram for nearly a decade. Her work has been published or commissioned by Arts Centre Melbourne, the Australia Council, Kill Your Darlings, Overland Journal, and anthologies, magazines and blogs in Australia, Singapore and the UK.

and she says:

The internet has given birth to an exciting new world of digital poetry. Putting your poems onto Instagram (or other social media platforms) can connect you to a vibrant online community and expose your work to a much broader audience.

The workshop was a succinct introduction to ways of putting your words, usually along with an image, onto a social media platform. Kate mainly focused on using the Over app to do this, and within a remarkably short time, had most of the twenty or so participants posting a fresh poem on Instragram.

Some Instapoets have developed huge followings and gained greater exposure and financial benefit than would have been possible following the traditional publishing path. The most famous is Rupi Kaur, an Indian born Canadian poet, writer, illustrator, and performer. There is much debate in the poetry community about the merit of InstaPoetry, but it cannot be denied that it has introduced poetry to an audience that it would not otherwise have reached. The downside risk as that poets will be tempted to “write for clicks” rather than for quality, resulting in a plethora of “Hallmark card” / inspirational poems.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a series of short poems on the theme of “The President’s Mirror”. InstaPoetry is a perfect medium for exposing these poems to a wider audience. I’ve started reformatting them for Instagram, and am posting one a day for the next month or so (one example shown above). You can follow me on Instagram here  or via the Instagram app. The latest posts are also shown on the right hand side of this blog.


copyright Mike Hopkins 2019