Archive for the ‘video’ Category


Poem number 30 for April 2015. The final one. I’ll miss NaPoWriMo, because it makes me write every day.

Like many people, I’m very uncomfortable with the exploitation of patriotism by politicians, and the selective commemoration of some wars but not others. On Anzac day in Canberra, an aboriginal man was prevented from marching. He had a banner saying “Lest we Forget – The Frontier Wars” (referring to the people killed in undeclared wars between settlers and the aboriginal population). He is an ex-serviceman and wanted to march in commemoration of his dead colleagues, but also in commemoration of aboriginal people killed in the frontier wars. A policeman told him “this day is not for you”.

The Australian War Memorial website says that Anzac Day “.. is the day on which we remember Australians who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations.”



Not for You

this day is not for you

this march is not for you

this commemoration is not your commemoration

this flag is not your flag

this land is not your land

this war is not your war


(this day is our day

this march is for us

this commemoration is of our dead

this flag is draped on our coffins

this band is playing our music)


this day is not for you

these graves are not your graves

these memorials are not your memorials

these speeches are not your language

these legends are not your legends

these dreams are not your dreams


(This day is our day

This skin is our skin

this lore is our lore

this history is our history

these myths are our myths

this system is our system

this way is our way)


this rule is our rule: THIS DAY IS NOT FOR YOU


Read more at  New Matilda


Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Poem number 27 for April 2015. Over the weekend I watched a very strange and very (to me) amusing film called “Inherent Vice”. It’s based on a Thomas Pynchon novel and features Joaquin Phoenix (great actor) as a spaced out, hippy private detective operating (I think) out of a dentist’s surgery, or maybe it’s a gynaecologist’s, I’m not 100% sure. Anyway, I marvelled at some of the dialogue, which is presumably Pynchon’s. I’ve taken several quotes from the film, and messed around with them to come up with some loose sort of arrangement of words.

Inherent vice

He was insulated
by secret loyalties
and codes of silence
until she arrived
like a bad luck planet
in his horoscope

she lay on him
a heavy combination
of face ingredients
he couldn’t read

her appetites ranged
from epic to everyday
he became
a hippy-hating mad dog
of Flintstone proportions
a little shit-twinkle
in his eye

gazing on her like
a precious cargo
that couldn’t be insured
but she was working
with a dark crew

by winter
she had removed
every trace of soul
he once had

His last words:
“It’s groovy being insane man”



Copyright Mike Hopkins 2015

Pashtun Podcasting

Posted: November 12, 2014 in poetry, video
Tags: , , ,

Pashto Landay – Afghan Women Poets from Franco Pachtoune on Vimeo.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. I found an app called Stitcher, which you can load onto your smartphone. It allows you to search by topic and will return any matching podcasts it can find. You can then listen on your phone whilst out walking, running, at the gym or relaxing on the couch. I tend to listen whilst at the gym – lets me feel I’m getting some mental stimulation as well as a physical workout, takes the mind off the tedium and mostly blocks out the terrible piped music that they blast out (despite the fact that 90% of gym goers are, like me, listening to something else on their phones).

Anyway, the Poetry Foundation has a great series of podcasts and one in particular grabbed my attention. It was about a form of poetry handed down orally from generation to generation of Pashtun women. Anybody who thinks that Afghani women are timid, conservative things should listen to this. The poems, called ‘Landay’ are often bawdy, angry, rebellious and downright hilarious. The word ‘Landay’ can be translated as ‘a short, poisonous snake’ – which tells you that the poems can have a bite. For example:

You sold me to an old goat father
May God destroy your home, I was your daughter


You wound a fat turban around your bald head
To hide from me your age and that you are nearly dead


Slide your hand into my bra
Stroke a red and ripening pomegranate of Kandahar

The landay is a two-line poem, of 22 syllables. Though I think this applies to the original Pashto version, because the English translations are not necessarily 22 syllables. There is a detailed description of landays here.

The podcast I listened to was an interview with Eliza Griswold, who collaborated with photographer Seamus Murphy to document Afghan life through the prism of these landays. Above is a beautifully shot short film made by them, which provides great insight into the lives of Pashtun women.


On Sunday I took part in the “March in May” demonstration in Adelaide, from Victoria Square to State Parliament. There were marches all over the country, protesting against the Abbott governments budget cuts to health, education, pensions, the ABC, and any other sector you care to name which Abbott does not like. The Murdoch media, predictably, was dismissive. The Sunday Telegraph headline was “The Ferals are Revolting”. Clearly the reporter had not noted the broad cross-section of Australian society represented by the demonstrators: school children, teenagers, parents, grand parents – every age group and every walk of life. Abbott has succeeded where Labor had failed – he has re-mobilised those who believe in a progressive Australia.

In the evening, coincidentally, I watched a gripping documentary called “The Square”, which happened to be about political demonstrators gathering in another square:  Cairo’s Tahrir Square in 2011. The documentary tracks four or five participant in the demonstrations: a Muslim, a couple of young activists, a singer and an actor Khalid Abdalla, who starred in “The Kite Runner”. The demonstrations led to the overthrow of the oppressive Mubarak regime, only to see it replaced by brutal military rule. They then forced the end of military rule to see it replaced by the rule of Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. Again they forced the end of Morsi’s regime in 2013.

It is an incredible insight into a complex situation, which I had barely understood before. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Rotten Tomatoes gives it 100% and describes it as “… an immersive experience, transporting the viewer deeply into the intense emotional drama and personal stories behind the news”. You can watch the whole film on the net here and here.

I took some quotes from the film and, with some minor alterations, have combined them into a sort of collage:


The Square

They will take you away

for dreaming the wrong dream


The rich don’t demand freedom

Because they already have it


They made two ballot boxes

One for the killers

One for the traitors


We are not looking for a leader

We are looking for a conscience


Religion is not in a book or on paper

Religion is in your head and your heart


They are gassing the hospitals

Even the doctors are dying


The good and free are called traitors

The traitors are called heroes


The Square united us all


© Mike Hopkins 2014, except for quotes from "The Square"

“No one, however smart, however well educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom” – Tony Abbott, Liberal Party leader, August 11 2013-08-12



the Suppository of all Wisdom,

have been secreted

in the warmest, moistest,

darkest place

by the carefully manicured

vaselined finger

of Rupert Murdoch.

I will be hidden

in Rupert’s passage

until election day.

In the meantime

the role of ‘wisdom dispensers’

will be filled

by newspaper editors.


he will void me

into the vitreous.

Tony and Australia

can then depend entirely

on Rupert’s wise counsel.

copyright Mike Hopkins 2013



Pitch n Putt with Beckett and Joyce

Posted: August 5, 2013 in video
Tags: ,

I’m snowed under with other stuff at the moment, so in the meantime, here’s a video I think is hilarious. Some great lines.

Many people eschew Facebook. (I don’t.) It’s a useful tool if you use it properly (I don’t).  If you’ve got a few interesting Facebook friends (like my friend and performance poet Robin Archbold), who share interesting videos with you, then it’s all worthwhile. Thank you Robin for passing this one to me, with the words “sometimes words are obsolete”. So of course, I immediately reached for a pen.

The background story:

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love affair in the 1970s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided, in 1988, to walk the Great Wall of China starting from opposite ends. Ulay started from the Gobi Desert and Marina from the Yellow Sea. After each of them had walked 2500 km, they met in the middle and said good-bye, never intending to see each other again. In her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ in which she spends a minute of silence with each stranger who sits in front of her. Ulay turned up unexpectedly.


She sits


eyes closed

lips moist




A stranger.

Looks deep

drinks in a face






Foot steps.


A stranger






Foot steps.


A stranger










It is him

opens wider

opens wider




breathes, breathes, breathes

no air


breathes, breathes

he sits


a nod

a  smile


she leans

pushes her hands

he smiles

he leans

first touch in twenty years



leans back

he is gone





not him



not him



he is gone.

Fixing his face

behind lids



Looks deep

drinks in a face

which is not his





copyright Mike Hopkins 2013.

I did a gig at “the best dive in Adelaide” aka The Squatters Arms last month (September 23rd 2012), part of the very edgy “Spoke n Slurred” series, organised by Daniel Watson.

This is a pub where the soles of your shoes really do stick to the carpet. Just the place for poetry.

Nigel Ford headlined the night with a fine set, and Dick Dale kicked it off with hilarious tales of his recent tribulations interstate.

I was in between the two. The crowd was well lubricated when I got on stage. When I was up there, I didn’t realise how much ‘crowd participation’ there was, but looking back at the video, the place was rocking.

Here’s the set: “Not yer typical performance f**kng poet”, “The Adelaide Taxi Driver’s Prayer”, “Adelaide is …”, “Evidently Friendly Street”, “Slam Poem”.

If you are of a sensitive disposition in relation to strong language, you are warned not to proceed.

Sensational Signings

Posted: September 1, 2012 in football, poetry, video
Tags: ,

Huge hoo ha in England over sensational signings of multi million pound men.