Category Archives: Brisbane

Pre-order ‘Carnivalesque, And: Other Stories’

You can now pre-order Kirk Marshall’s fiction debut at Black Rider Press.

Just quietly – it’d be a good idea if you did.

Orders ship from Monday 21 November 2011.

Kirk will launch the book at Avid Reader in Brisbane on 17 November 2011. See the Avid Reader website for more information and to RSVP. You should go. It’ll be awesome.

Check out what these cats said about the book.

Get caught up with the preface and get the right perspective.

Leave a comment

Filed under Black Rider Press, Brisbane, Fiction, Kirk AC Marshall, Published

Time Off Magazine and Scene Magazine get to know the Black Rider

Hey, I got a mention in the 59th verse of Emily XYZ’s one-verse-per-day twitter poem.

59: who’s best / andy angela jeremy tiggy ross? graham pam johnpaul angel darkwing ken? ghostboy who reads bowie upstairs as baby sleeps?

Brisbane’s Scene Magazine did a lil article on the Queensland Poetry Festival and briefly chatted with me in their Festival in Preview article (scroll down).

Time Off Magazine did a longer feature, but they’ve taken it down already, so here it is:


By Helen Stringer

The Queensland Poetry Festival takes over the Judith Wright Centre next week; HERE HELEN STRINGER talks to one of its performers, Perth poet Jeremy Balius.

The mention of spoken word poetry might conjure images of a smoky basement room filled with black-cloaked figures gently clicking their fingers in approval as a pale, malnourished, art school dropout woefully laments the demise of intellectualism in rhyming couplets and a dry monotone, but it’s a misconception that Perth-based poet and performer Jeremy Balius – soon to be in town for the Queensland Poetry Festival – is quick to dispel.
The reality, he explains, is a lot more engaging and evocative than the traditional “Beatnik berets and black turtlenecks” perception would suggest.
“Spoken word as a scene or an experience is a lot closer to what you would experience in theatre,” he says. “So the reasons for going to the theatre would outweigh the reasons for going to the cinema because the actual human emotion element is happening in front of you. That’s what’s going on with spoken word poetry. You’re experiencing it in real time; it’s happening in front of you. It’s a whole lot more engaging than the cliché back-room hokey perception.”

Originally from Los Angeles, Balius – who describes his own work as “more vehement and excitable than the usual” – came across spoken word through music: “the writing of it came from being heavily involved in music and being lyrically bent. The more and more you head down that path you end up coming to the end result which is poetry.”

His immersion in the world of poetry – aside from writing and performing he’s also ventured into indie publishing with Black Rider Press – has lead to his appearance at the Queensland Poetry Festival, an honour, he jokes that must be a “clerical error”. As he says, “it’s completely amazing that of the people coming from WA I’m coming up with Andrew Taylor and Andrew Burke, two stalwarts in WA. These guys are pinnacles in the poetry scene and that alone is a huge honour for me.”

While performance is obviously inherent to all spoken word, Balius is particularly diligent in delineating between printed and spoken poetry.
“I’m probably more militant on this issue than most people… It’s hard to separate myself from the performance aspect. When I read work that I’m going to perform bound within it is the delivery and the movement and the drama of it all and the personal engagement with the audience… It’s about being able to step up on stage and deliver and people just being so blown away that they’re actively responding; they’re so in the moment and not containing themselves.”

Indeed, he’s probably one of the few poets who can claim the dubious honour of having evoked a response so uncontained they’re forced off stage for fear of provoking a riot. Admittedly, the event in question occurred after a band Balius was performing spoken word with was mistakenly booked to play a Bhangra – a very specific type of Indian dance music – festival.

“It went sour so fast and people responded with such vehemence and youthful jubilee that quickly the pandemonium rose to where there’re guys starting to fight and there’s just complete chaos. We got cut after the second song.”  Thankfully, audience responses are usually more positive and rarely involve violent retaliation.

“My favourite response is not even a favourable one but I use it as my mantra. Someone came up to me and he said, ‘You should probably know that we don’t get people like you around here that often…I think I liked it but I don’t know if I should.’” It’s an apt mantra for a spoken word poet: I liked it, but I don’t know if I should.

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia, Brisbane, Interview, Poetry, Spoken Word

Queensland Poetry Festival gets to know the Black Rider

Photo by Ryan Michael Swearingen,

I’m about a month and a half away from traipsing over to Brisbane for my song and dance at the Queensland Poetry Festival (QPF).

The good folk at QPF dropped in for a conversation recently and published an interview with me on their website.  You’ll see chit-chat similar to:

QPF: To borrow a recent question posed by Emily XYZ – What is the purpose of your writing?

Me: On some days I want my writing to be for the last of the red hot lovers – as maps or walking sticks or a drink of water for them road-weary gypsies. These are songs to sing along to as however small a help to be unyielding to despair.

On other days my writing’s the broken music creeping out of the grinderman’s decrepit organ and I’m the little monkey in a tiny, filthy suit, chained to the organ, dancing and begging.

Read my interview at Queensland Poetry Festival > select 2010 Festival > Artist Interviews > Jeremy Balius.

1 Comment

Filed under Australia, Brisbane, Interview, Poetry, Show, Spoken Word

5 reasons why we need August Kleinzahler in our lives; Or, How August Kleinzahler blew into town and made off with all our women

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club in 'The Wild One'

Have I told you I’m troubadoring over to Brisbane to preach some tiger-by-the-tail type sermons and sing some frenzy-filled gospel songs at the Queensland Poetry Festival?  Well, I am.  (Thanks to G.Nunn and all the other peeps who are making this happen.  Your kindness abounds.)

Andrew Burke, Andrew Taylor and I are heading over to rep the West coast steez as part of a stellar line-up of poetical hepcats and lyrical astral travellers.  I was thinking about asking Burke and Taylor if we could go as the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  We could make jackets.  Like in The Wild One, not after the band.  Although the band is awesome too.

I just found out August Kleinzahler is swooping for the ole QPF onstage love-em-n-slay-em while blowing minds and raising the winds.  New Jersey borne, San Fransisco Haight-Ashbury hombre August Kleinzahler!?!?!  Yes, August Kleinzahler.

Is August Kleinzahler in your life?  No?  He needs to be.  He’s one of the last of the red hot lovers.  Here are 5 reasons why.

(Oh, and just quickly, I can only ever say August Kleinzahler’s name in full.  Think RZA and GZA and Bill Murray in Coffee and Cigarettes.)

5 reasons why we need August Kleinzahler in our lives

1) August Kleinzahler gives speeches for the ages.

If you win this thing called the Griffin Poetry Prize, you have to give a speech at the next year’s ceremony.

August Kleinzahler slays ’em with the funniest

Those of you who don’t win can find solace in the knowledge that you’ve been paid far more attention to the past couple of days than you’ve probably been paid before and that the judges are pusillanimous, blinkered, compromised gits, so what did you expect.


Months from now you all will receive in the mail a package containing the enormous banner bearing your name and image. You will find yourselves puzzled as to what exactly you’re expected to do with it. I suggested to my significant other that she wrap it around herself sari-style and wear it on our evenings out, as a sort of tribute to my genius and achievements. She told me to go … well, I won’t tell you what she told me. It reflects poorly, I think, on her upbringing.


I suppose you want me to say something cheery about poetry. I recall my friend, the English poet Christopher Logue, who was shortlisted for the Griffin prize a few years back, telling me about a visit he made to Prague not long ago … spotted another Anglophone old-timer, an American … As it turns out the American was Elmore Leonard, the famous crime writer. Logue was suitably impressed and introduced himself. Quite reasonably, Leonard had never heard of him. “What do you do?” the author of Get Shorty and Jackie Brown inquired. “I’m a poet,” Logue replied. Elmore Leonard looked at Logue intently for a few moments, then said in a genuinely earnest, heartfelt tone of voice: “You know, the first thing that comes into my head every morning when I wake up is ‘Thank effing Christ I’m not a poet.

and then goes on to give this incredibly poignant speech about a 21-line poem about a Canadian sunset and his ideal reader and the beauty of poetry.

2) August Kleinzahler is cool with thrashing people and getting thrashed in return.

I’m cool with that and you should be too.

An example is when August Kleinzahler reviewed Good Poems, edited by a Garrison Keillor, in a Poetry Magazine article No Antonin Artaud with the Flapjacks, Please.

Ninety percent of adult Americans can pass through this life tolerably well, if not content, eating, defecating, copulating, shopping, working, catching the latest Disney blockbuster, without having a poem read to them by Garrison Keillor or anyone else. Nor will their lives be diminished by not standing in front of a Cézanne at the art museum or listening to a Beethoven piano sonata. Most people have neither the sensitivity, inclination, or training to look or listen meaningfully, nor has the culture encouraged them to, except with the abstract suggestion that such things are good for you. Multivitamins are good for you. Exercise, fresh air, and sex are good for you. Fruit and vegetables are good for you. Poetry is not.

Conversely, Marjorie Perloff reviews August Kleinzahler’s award-winning Sleeping It Off in Rapid City in the Times with praise but also with:

What this predictable catalogue lacks is the particularity that makes poems like Frank O’Hara’s “The Day Lady Died” (whose middle section, like Kleinzahler’s, is a tour of bookshops, each image and action subtly anticipating the final revelation of Billie Holiday’s death) so arresting. To call the used bookshop’s clientele “dowdy” and “ferrety” (weasel-like) or its proprietess a “swollen arachnid,” to remark on a girl’s bad skin and a man’s tic: such dismissive gestures are themselves tics: we miss what Pound called “luminous detail”—the image as “radiant node or cluster from which or into which ideas are constantly rushing.” Wouldn’t it be interesting, for example, if there were a moment of erotic eye contact between poet and proprietess, in the vein, say, of Baudelaire’s “A une passante”?  The title poem (originally published in the London Review of Books) has a similar predictability.

3) August Kleinzahler writes better essay-memoir-articles than us.

I’d not heard of Kenneth Cox.  Reading August Kleinzahler’s Kenneth Cox article in Jacket Magazine makes me wish I’d known about Kenneth Cox all along.  I wish I’d been the greatest of friends with him.

I enjoyed a long correspondence with Kenneth Cox. His letters have all the austere brilliance of style and acuity of observation as the critical prose. They could also be very funny, or at least generously sprinkled with oblique and telling asperities. They would make an interesting collection. I learned a great deal from his letters, and not only from the art of them:

‘I didn’t give a toss about the writer’s state of mind, all I cared for was the play of words. I would go round savouring a phrase to test it, taste it, till I could decide if it was ‘good’ or had to be spat out. That word taste is not a metaphor. People talk about the sound of language but the real thing is its taste, in the mouth, harsh crisp sweet pungent, produced by the movement of sound.’

4) August Kleinzahler dedicates poems to John Ashberry better than we can and has his photo taken by our John Tranter better than we ever will.

Photo by John Tranter. Published in Jacket 2

Napping After Lunch, For J.A. on occasion of his 70th was published in Jacket 2.

Napping After Lunch

For J.A. on the occasion of his 70th

On the tea green comforter with Babette
the pet mouse
stuffed and at sea on its expanse
a breeze in the curtains
how one then begins to float
naked but for fur as God would have
so many towns
unseen at first then bend after bend revealed
the distant slap and creaking of tackle
the great cedar and the fountain’s plashing
I recall, don’t you
say so, say you do
the bays, the teeming estuaries
say to me how possibility’s everywhere welcome

A hint of lavender, from the soap, perhaps the yard
out there with the swells of noise
of crowds on the cobbled quay, seaplanes
trembling in the curtains
the green dial, among the many signals
in there in the other room on the radio glowing
adrift like a dinghy
a mile maybe more away from shore
out there heedless, unmanned
the fading steel guitar
what sounds like Veronica’s pattymelt song
then clearly, the wind chimes on Nana’s porch
a clap of thunder
and at last long last host upon host of mummers

5) August Kleinzahler is.

And probably always will be.  It’s all in Green Sees Things in Waves published in his collection by the same name.  You will see it too.  Ebbing and flowing and swooning and tempest-prone overcoming.

Green Sees Things in Waves

Green first thing each day sees waves—
the chair, armoire, overhead fixtures, you name it,
waves—which, you might say, things really are,
but Green just lies there awhile breathing
long slow breaths, in and out, through his mouth
like he was maybe seasick, until in an hour or so
the waves simmer down and then the trails and colors
off of things, that all quiets down as well and Green
starts to think of washing up, breakfast even
with everything still moving around, colors, trails,
and sounds, from the street and plumbing next door,
vibrating—of course you might say that’s what
sound really is, after all, vibrations—but Green,
he’s not thinking physics at this stage, nuh-uh,
our boy’s only trying to get himself out of bed,
get a grip, but sometimes, and this is the kicker,
another party, shall we say, is in the room
with Green, and Green knows this other party
and they do not get along, which understates it
quite a bit, quite a bit, and Green knows
that this other cat is an hallucination, right,
but these two have a routine that goes way back
and Green starts hollering, throwing stuff
until he’s all shook up, whole day gone to hell,
bummer . . .

Anyhow, the docs are having a look,
see if they can’t dream up a cocktail,
but seems our boy ate quite a pile of acid one time,
clinical, wow, enough juice for half a block—
go go go, little Greenie—blew the wiring out
from behind his headlights and now, no matter what,
can’t find the knob to turn off the show.

PS – Every August Kleinzahler book I own has an Allen Ginsberg blurb on it and after some research, found that it gets caned all over.  This is more of an FYI rather than an ace up the sleeve.

August Kleinzahler’s verse line is always precise, concrete, intelligent and rare—that quality of ‘chiseled’ verse memorable in Basil Bunting’s and Ezra Pound’s work. A loner, a genius.

1 Comment

Filed under 5 reasons why, Australia, Brisbane, Poetry, Show, Spoken Word