Award Winning Australian Writing 2017 – I’m in it

Dear Mike,

I have the greatest pleasure in informing you that your piece, ‘My Father’s Blood’, has been selected for inclusion in Award Winning Australian Writing 2017.

Your piece will be proofread in order to adhere to Melbourne Books’ House Style (e.g. em-dashes, single quotation marks, etc.), but no major editorial changes will be made.

We will publish your work on a non-exclusive basis, meaning you are free to publish it elsewhere if you wish. You retain all rights to your work.

The launch will be held on 30 August. More details will be sent out shortly. We hope to have some people reading extracts from their winning work at the event, so please let us know if you like to be one of them.

In the meantime, keep up to date with Melbourne Books’ Writers’ Hub and AWAW on Facebook. We might post excerpts of your work on our Facebook page, so remember to Like us and share our posts with your friends. Please let us know if you’d like us to share any video or audio recordings of you reading your piece.

Thanks for being part of this exciting collection! We will be touch again soon.

Kind regards,

AWAW 2017 Editorial Committee


The poem, about my late father, won first prize in the Salisbury Writers’ Competition in 2016. Read it here:


Launching “Selfish Bastards and Other Poems”


The launch of my chapbook  “Selfish Bastards and Other Poems” will take place at the Halifax Cafe in Adelaide on Thursday, October 6th, 2016. I am in the illustrious company of Alison Flett, Judy Dally, Louise McKenna and Steve Brock, the other poets in the 2016 Garron chapbook series. It could be a big night.

If you can’t make the launch, you can order copies of “Selfish Bastards and Other Poems” here, and I will post to you as soon as they arrive from the publisher.

Order “Selfish Bastards and Other Poems”


My new poetry chapbook Selfish Bastards and Other Poems will be published in late September 2016 by Garron Publishing.

You can order a signed copy now and pay via Paypal – I’ll post to you as soon as available.

Within Australia – Selfish Bastards and Other Poems – $8 including postage.

Overseas – Selfish Bastards and Other Poems – $10 including postage.

Click on the “Donate” button below to order and pay for your copy:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

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


The Blind Pig and the Irish Abbatoir

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:


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

The Adelaide Collective

… 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:


Short and Very Twisted

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?

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.

“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

What’s accountancy got do with poetry?

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