Everybody Hates Poets (for Paddy Walsh)

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

Aggressive gangster hard core rapper

I’m in the State final of the Australian Poetry Slam tomorrow (Friday 2nd November), 7:30 at Higher Ground, Light Square, Adelaide.

This morning I did an interview at Radio Adelaide, on the Breakfast Show.

The young interviewer, Angas, obviously didn’t know what to expect in terms of slam poetry. Sue Reece, who invited me along to do the interview, specifically requested that I do one of my poems called “Slam Poem”. The poem requires a fair bit of energy. It’s really written to be delivered to a rowdy pub audience.

So I put a bit of energy into it, and young Angas seemed to be caught a bit off guard. He said something like “Whoa that was pretty aggressive”, and said it had a fair bit of rap in it.

So now based on reaction from friends who listened in, I have a new identity: aggressive gangster hard core rapper.

You can hear the interview (about 10 mins, including that great character Jill Wherry), at


Mr. Versatility. That’s me.

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”:


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


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


You can catch one of my poems “Adelaide is..” opening and closing the ABC Radio National 360 Documentary, “The Poet Stripped Bare” (with a language warning), about ‘the seedier side’ of Adelaide poetry scene.

Listen online at:


or on ABC Radio National 729 on the AM dial this Sunday 3 June 2012 10:05AM

“This is poetry…but not as you know it. Take a deeper look at Adelaide’s literary scene to find a bunch of poets who you won’t find on the manicured lawns at Writer’s Week. Instead, find yourself in the ‘best dive in town’, where we meet one of the scene’s most notorious characters, Teri Louise Kelly. Follow Teri’s unique story, and through her unapologetic and brutally honest verse, discover what it took to lay herself bare as a woman, and as a poet.

‘You know how it feels right? …How it feels when you wake up facing the brutal reality that the total cost at life’s checkout is beyond your resources and despite what they preach, life isn’t even an evens game… you know how that feels don’t you?’”

“Last of the Cat Poems” meets Eureka Street

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:


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

60 Second Slam – Adelaide Is….

Yesterday (Sunday 26th Feb 2012), I cycled into the city to take part in the Paroxysm Press 60 second Slam at the Tuxedo Cat on North Terrace. Part of the Adelaide 2012 Fringe.

A decent crowd, a whole range of styles and content.

I did a new piece, called “Adelaide is …”, and got an “encouragement prize” – a nice book of short stories.

Here’s an audio of the poem:

2nd Prize in Friendly Street’s “National Political Poetry Competition”

Alan Ginsberg

I was very pleased to be awarded 2nd prize in the  Friendly Street “National Political Poetry Competition”, for my poem Australia.

The poem was inspired by Alan Ginsberg’s great 9 minute poetic rant America, in which he laments his fractured relationship with his home country. He addresses America as if he was addressing a life partner.

My take on Australia also laments a fractured relationship with a country I adopted, or adopted me, over 20 years ago.  It was really during the Howard years that I fell out with Australia, though things have improved somewhat since he was so sweetly beaten in 2007.  Shame Labor has been such a let-down, frittering away a huge amount of goodwill, and caving in to the bullying of the Murdoch press. But almost anything is better than an Australian Liberal (read hard right) government.

Here’s the poem, and there’s a link to the Ginsberg poem at the end.


(after Alan Ginsberg)

Australia, I gave you my heart and you broke it.

It’s over between us.

This is not about me it’s about you. You’ve changed.

Australia I came to you with nothing, and now I’m something.  Why am I not sure I made the right choice?

Australia I was a socialist when I was young and I’m not sorry.

I marched in the streets, waved placards, shouted slogans, sang “The Internationale”, wore the T-shirt.  You seemed to want the same things I did.  I thought we would grow closer as we got older, but Australia we’ve grown apart.

Australia why do you insist on draping another country’s flag over your shoulder?

What is it with you and America?

Australia you do realise you’re in the southern hemisphere?

Australia why do you have a third world country living right inside your belly?

Why does it seem like most of your history books only go back 200 years?

Did you eat all of your native animals Australia? If so, why do you need all those sheep as well?

Australia is it your ambition to supply the whole world with uranium and carbon dioxide?

Australia take me to your leader.

Australia, cancel that last request. It’s clear you don’t have any leaders.

Australia why do you let shit for brains shock jocks rule your intellectual life?

Why are your businessmen such macho pricks?

and when will you come out of the closet?

Australia I feel nostalgic for Paul Keating.

Christ, I’m worried I might even be feeling nostalgic for Malcolm Fraser and Robert Menzies.

Australia when will you free David Hicks?

Australia why are you obsessed with big bananas, big koalas, big rocking horses, big pineapples?  Is it some kind of penis envy thing?

Australia, if you were on the psychiatrist’s couch, I think you would be labelled ‘psycopathic’, lacking in empathy for anyone earning less than $150,000 a year.

Australia what are you on?

Can I have some too?

Australia I am being serious.

Australia what are we going to do about this situation, and don’t tell me “she’ll be right”?

Australia it occurs to me that maybe you’re not Australia at all. Maybe George W was right, and you’re really Austria. You’ve certainly been exhibiting some Teutonic tendencies of late.

Maybe I’m really Australia. I’m talking to myself yet again. Hell, I’m scared – my extremities are about to be colonised by hordes of desperate, dark skinned people, and you know I’m allergic to dark skinned people.

They’re coming to steal our daughters, to put a mosque on every street corner, to wake us with a wailing call to prayer, to force our women to cover their faces, to impose Sharia law.

Australia this is the impression I get from your media.

Is this correct?

Ok  Australia, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. You can be Australia again.

I’m too small for the job anyway.

Seriously Australia, if we are to resume our relationship, you need to make some changes.

I’m prepared to help. I’ll put my straight shoulder to the wheel.

Australia I’ll meet you halfway. I’ll give up beer, watching football and staying out late, if you’ll give up on shock jocks, spineless politicians and your forelock tugging to far off countries. That seems fair to me.

Australia do we have a deal?

© Mike Hopkins 2011


Alan Ginsberg reads his poetic rant America: