Category Archives: Poetry

Pre-sale of ‘Outcrop – radical Australian poetry of land’

Outcrop presale image

Outcrop is a new anthology which collects contemporary radical Australian poetry of land, to be published in July 2013 by Black Rider Press. Delivery of pre-sale purchases will be in July.

Curated by Corey Wakeling and Jeremy Balius, Outcrop transcribes innovative and significant poetical approaches to land at the crossroads of ecologies and language.

The collection, rather than an exhaustive survey, represents a diversity of contemporary Australian radical poetic perspectives. These range from land in content and syntax, to voice, ecology, gesture and land of the body.

These are poetic experiments with landscape and geopolitics, exemplars of radical visions of land.

The anthology is approximately 240 pages in length, with up to 10 pages dedicated to each included poet.

Outcrop features a diversity of contemporary Australian radical poetic perspectives

Outcrop features poetry from Louis Armand, Laurie Duggan, Ali Cobby Eckermann, Kate Fagan, Michael Farrell, Lionel Fogarty, Keri Glastonbury, Matthew Hall, Fiona Hile, Duncan Hose, Jill Jones, John Kinsella, Astrid Lorange, John Mateer, Peter Minter, Sam Langer, Claire Potter, Pete Spence, Nicola Themistes and Tim Wright.

Outcrop is to be launched at ASAL 2013

Outcrop will be launched at the Association for the Study of Australian Literature (ASAL) 2013 Conference at Charles Stuart University in Wagga Wagga.

Held in July, the conference’s theme this year is ‘Country’ with a focus on topics which include the reimagining of the antipodes, discussing notions of country, region and location in literature, the sacred and the profane in country and the interaction between the cosmopolitan and the rural.

Outcrop is available at discounted pre-sale price for 10 days

Outcrop is available at a discounted pre-sale price for the next 10 days only. Save over 20% (including a saving on postage & handling) by pre-ordering Outcrop on Pozible.

Outcrop is available for $20 (inclusive of postage & handling) until 1 June 2013. Once launched at ASAL 2013, ‘Outcrop’ will cost $25 (plus postage & handling).

Also, available for the next 10 days are bundling opportunities, including limited edition printed chapbooks from the Black Rider presents Lyrics chapbook series. This series of chapbooks is usually only available in ebook format. These limited edition printed chapbooks will only be available for purchase as part of the pre-sale of Outcrop and will not be sold again.

For A$30 (inclusive of postage & handling), you can buy a copy of Outcrop at a discounted pre-sale price, plus your choice of one limited edition chapbook of new poetry in the Black Rider present Lyrics series by either Jill Jones, Michael Farrell or Ali Alizadeh.

For A$50 (inclusive of postage & handling), you can buy a copy of Outcrop at a discounted pre-sale price, plus all three limited edition chapbooks of new poetry in the Black Rider presents Lyrics series by Jill Jones, Michael Farrell and Ali Alizadeh.

For A$70 (inclusive of postage & handling), you can buy a copy of Outcrop at a discounted pre-sale price, plus all three limited edition chapbooks of new poetry in the Black Rider presents Lyrics series by Jill Jones, Michael Farrell and Ali Alizadeh, plus a discounted copy of Kirk Marshall’s debut short fiction collection Carnivalesque, And: Other Stories.

And finally, for the most discounted bundle of them all…

For A$80 (inclusive of postage & handling), you can buy a copy of Outcrop at a discounted pre-sale price, plus all three limited edition chapbooks of new poetry in the Black Rider presents Lyrics series by Jill Jones, Michael Farrell and Ali Alizadeh, plus a discounted copy of Kirk Marshall’s debut short fiction collection Carnivalesque, And: Other Stories, plus a discounted copy of Cottonmouth – An Anthology of New Australian Writing.

All pre-sale orders will be delivered after ASAL 2013 in July.

Put your order in for Outcrop – radical Australian poetry of land.

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Black Rider Lines: Hyaline launch speech by Dr Glen Phillips

I am honoured to be asked to launch Hyaline, Matt Hall’s fine new poetry collection, and must first congratulate not only Saskatchewan Matt for his formidable poetic talents, but also our enterprising publisher (and indeed mentor) in Black Rider Press, led so well by Jeremy Balius. It is a beautifully crafted book and the cover images derive from mid-20th century family photographs, rejected and left in an old camera for seeming blurred and out of focus. But in their ephemerality they suggest careless attitudes to environment that now haunt us.

I myself apologise at the outset that I come from another and distant country, theoretically speaking, merely because of my relative antiquity amid the exuberance of contemporary and comparatively youthful ideas of space and place in this world today.

I have theorised elsewhere (and in particular in my own PhD), that, since humans once did not have language, but did still need, as a matter of real survival, the mental potential to know their environments extremely well (and make their detailed landscape maps in the mind), so their potential to thus ‘learn’ landscapes might well have preceded our present amazing human abilities to acquire and use languages.  So learning your birth landscape would be a very ancient but expected developmental task, reflected perhaps in the interest, even obsession on the part of some individuals to render landscape as visual art or poetry.  Therefore I argued further in my treatise that learning second landscapes is potentially a second but still vital order of survival skills.  Every birth territory has its adjoining foreign territories. And since skills can be taught or at least learned more efficiently through applying a process, it seems to follow that there would have to be additional skills related to the ones acquired in early life. These would involve adjusting the pre-existing skills for mapping and imaging an environment.  Just as we experience ‘interference’ from existing languages when we acquire new ones, and have to erase (at least temporarily) the old habits and vocabularies, I believe we can (and the better artists do) adjust to new landscapes by responding in new ways to them.  Thus a palimpsestic process takes place, one of partial erasures and replacements.

In the case of Matt Hall’s poems in this collection (note the working title was A Pastoral Artifice), there is a dazzling range of what I call both first and second landscape learning displayed. The laudatory comments about Hyaline of poets as illustrious as John Kinsella, Peter Larkin and Louis Armand confirm there is much more than a touch of genius in Matt’s evocation of both Canadian homeland and Australian landscapes here. As you turn the pages, the reader’s delight increases poem by poem. No doubt the influence of Matt’s own PhD preoccupations, namely Jeremy H Prynne and violence, could be discerned by many of his readers. It was Prynne himself who wrote or quoted in his fascinating recent work Kazoo Dreamboats (or On What There Is) (2011): ‘To be this with sweet song and dance in the exit dream, sweet joy befall thee…’. But maybe my reading of Hyaline is taking a too personal track? Again no doubt reflecting the ghost country seven decades ago where I (like Matt) come from—as wheatbelt-born, the son of a country schoolmaster and, therefore, one of Matt’s ‘other ghosts’, perhaps.

The construction of this beautifully designed and produced artefact of a book of poetry into its sections ‘Harm’s Light’, ‘The Graceful Accident Which Cities the Field’, ‘Flight Call’, ‘Tenantry’, ‘Language and Sentiment’, ‘The Pleasures of Forecasts’ and finally, ‘Hyaline’ is key to the poet’s gift to his readers. The eight implied themes of these eight parts provide a substantial component of the extraordinary assemblage of layered responses to ‘old’ and ‘new’ places. And as one reads on, it becomes clearer that these places are not merely some samples of autobiographical mapping but in many senses a mapping for all of us of the place or places to which our environmentally troubled contemporary world has come.

Even if I had the capability, my function is not to review Hyaline, nor to deliver a learned treatise on this veritably encyclopaedic work of poetry and eco-philosophy. It is to recommend it for your enthusiastic attention and delight —as discerning readers of a poetry that is at the cutting edge of modernity, embodying the highest standards of poetic craft. However, I do claim the right to mention some of the poems that strike a special chord for me. But before I do that, I want to reference ‘Kickin’ it with Matthew Hall’, the recent so-titled internet ‘viral interview’ with Matt about the conception and substance of Hyaline. In it, Matt explains the origin of Hyaline as follows:

‘The project sprang from my reading and trying to avail myself of Australian literature during the first years of my living in Australia, so it sprung from reading Kinsella, Louis Armand, and any number of other experimental poets (such as Michael Farrell), eco-poets (Stewart Cooke) and landscape poets. It came out of contemplating and mediating a relationship with the natural and trying to find a means of expression which mattered and which challenged the hegemonic constructs of the creation of language-meaning.’

Matt defines Hyaline as generically ‘Poetry. Pastoral. Eco-poetic. Radical pastoral. But depending on your definition these might also fall under the rubric of anti-pastoral. In terms of forms, the book is a collection of serial poems, some in bound prose, and some in freeverse, some in formalised patterns.’

And that is exactly what we do find. But more, much more than that, we find each poem complete in itself. Naturally I was first drawn to the book’s  ‘title section’, Hyaline, where the poem ‘Triptych: landscapes’ seems to range not so much over Matt’s birth country as our own country of Western Australia, a second profoundly influential landscape for the poet to learn to love—and love enough to care deeply about its potential destruction.

In ‘Triptych: landscapes’ he writes in Part II of,

‘the reddened landscapes;/upon a rock face, before defense or slaughter

Actions are prodigious streaks of ochre and ash/ numinous motions of a fire-lit night’.

Such images clearly evoke the rock art of the Kimberley region of WA in which Matt shares a passionate interest with J H Prynne and which he claims to be the part of our country to which he feels most drawn.

On the other hand, in the ‘Harm’s Light’ first section of the book, in the  poem ‘artifice’, he writes of a ‘fertile land endangered/ by saline encroachment’ and in the aforementioned interview he recalls: the loss of connection to land which I felt strongly when relocating from Canada to the Australian outback… Therefore the poems and their language reflect destruction, reflect damage, in lexicon, in description, in the failure of a model of lyric to measure up to the world. The corporeal body as damaged poem, the damaged poetic as the earthen dream.

Yet if we go back now to the ‘Hyaline’ section we come across, in the book’s title poem, ‘Hyaline’, lines which, presumably, cannot but refer of his birth country, Saskatchewan:

‘…where once/ you passed through the haulm unaccompanied/the orchard’s           sounds through a dusty kitchen/ where what was learned before we learned/ to bury this earthen dream outside, the winds, also,/ share this wealth of no necessary language’. Here the ‘haulm’ seems to refer to the stalk toppings of certain crop plants such as peas or potatoes, or what we might call stubble after a harvester has been through our wheat crops. But more importantly what we see is the cumulative process of first landscape and habitat learning. And they also underline the essential palimpsestic process by which we make, unmake  and remake our landscapes in actuality. And in our poetic responses to them.

Enough of analysis! I am sure that shortly, and in response, the author is going to select to read some whole poems which we can enjoy as they were meant to be enjoyed when he composed them. They must stand alone as poems can and should.

My duty is formally to launch Hyaline in Western Australia. This then will be, quite appropriately, its first Australian launch. For the next will be in Melbourne. And in my launching tonight I recommend most heartily that you take possession of your own signed copy of Hyaline as soon as possible if you have not already done so!

Hyaline, you are launched.

– Glen Phillips, 21 March, 2013.

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Kickin’ it with Matthew Hall

Matthew Hall“The Next Big Thing” is a viral interview making its way across the literary landscape. Michael Leong tagged Edric Mesmer, who in turn tagged Matthew Hall.

What follows is Hall’s interview, published here in anticipation of the launch of his debut poetry collected Hyaline next week.

What is the working title of the book?

The title of my book is Hyaline. The working title was A Pastoral Artifice, which took its inspiration from Veronica Forrest-Thomson’s ‘A Poetic Artifice’, which I was given to reading and rereading at the time of composition.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

The project sprang from my reading and trying to avail myself of Australian literature during the first years of my living in Australia, so it sprung from reading Kinsella, Louis Armand, and any number of other experimental poets (such as Michael Farrell), eco-poets (Stewart Cooke) and landscape poets. It came out of contemplating and mediating a relationship with the natural and trying to find a means of expression which mattered and which challenged the hegemonic constructs of the creation of language-meaning.

The notion of the radical pastoral that the book tries to engender in the poems came from Kinsella’s book, Disclosed Poetics, which contains astonishing readings of Australian literature. Particularly I was taken by Kinsella’s reading of ‘Speed, A Pastoral’, by John Forbes. In the book Kinsella lays out a definition of the radical pastoral and an engagement with the land that subsumes anthropomorphic hierarchies and privilege, and demands new ways of mediating our relationship with nature in a manner which is non-exploitive, finally moving towards an activist poetics, which would become his next large theoretic project.

Hyaline, I believe I first read in a poem of Jeremy Prynne’s, and you will see the word used by a number of poets who read his work with some dedication. The definition is chiefly anatomical or zoological and pertains in this way to cartridge, as resembling a glassy or translucent surface. In literary works the word is usually used in the description of landscapes: a hyaline sky, or such, which entails a vitreous characteristic to the surface described, that is, both reflective and refractive. And that is how I began to consider the relationship with nature of which I was writing, as both of reflecting a personal ethics, and refracting back a portion of the natural through an ethical prism, reflecting the promise and failures of humankind.

It is also a collection about loss, analogously the loss we face as humans with the continuing global destruction of ecologies for profit, and about the loss of connection to land which I felt strongly when relocating from Canada to the Australian outback. In this sense the poems which focus on the Australian landscape are dominantly about finding new ways of reading the land, of understanding how traditions, rituals and concept of land have been affected by colonialism, have been affected by the rise of the technological, by dislocation. Therefore the poems and their language reflect destruction, reflect damage, in lexicon, in description, in the failure of a model of lyric to measure up to the world. The corporeal body as damaged poem, the damaged poetic as the earthen dream. The damage and limitations of intent.

What genre does your book fall under?

Poetry. Pastoral. Eco-poetic. Radical pastoral. But depending on your definition these might also full under the rubric of anti-pastoral. In terms of forms, the book is a collection of serial poems, some in bound prose, and some in freeverse, some in formalised patterns.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

There are only a small handful of poems in the collection with people in them. Most are reflective of landscape, as endangered by and damaged by human inhabitants, but people remain predominantly absent from the works.

Regarding this absence, during my work on the book I got the opportunity to spend some time with the Glasgow/ Montreal based photographer Fiona Annis, who works in, alongside people like Tacita Dean, and formerly– Jas Ban Ader, what is referred to as Romantic Conceptualism. I took to thinking about my creative and critical process, and thinking about Romantic Conceptualism in contemporary art as a balance point between Sol LeWitt’s emotionless conceptual object and the pervasive emotional and subjective registers of Romantic art, and started to reconsider my own work in this manner. So I’d start by perhaps introducing the phrase Ecologic Conceptualism (note: we’re going nowhere near Goldsmith’s Conceptualism here), or Eco-conceptual poetics, by which I mean a poem which utilises and engenders voice and authoritative presence to speak about landscape and ecologies, and that the positions of the poems are contained within an artifice, a meta-structural frame which shapes and directs reading comprehension. The political and poetic impulses of conceptualism therefore determine the structure of the communicative exchange over the poem and pre-establish the theoretic and thematic positions wherein the lyrical or experiential poem functions. The ecological register of the poem is positioned within the working model, which asks for a re-evaluation and reconsideration of the structure of communication–under the effect of the conceptual register.  Thus the materiality of the poem is determined by the conceptual platform.

Most readers, I trust, will read the poem for the lyrical-ecological aspects of it, and this is the normative reading; whereas the conceptual frame renders the poem with a different reading stratagem, a different register on the processes of the poem which results in a supplemental, political, or emancipatory reading.

I believe that the Forbes poem referenced above could provide an early register of this type of ecological conceptualism. ‘Speed, A pastoral’ (for those of you unfamiliar: http://jacketmagazine.com/03/speed-jf.html ) asks of the reader to consider the poem as a pastoral, despite the obvious fact that the poem is about drug use and Michael Dransfield’s mythos within Australian poetic communities. So the title entails a conceptual and poetic register that directs our reading of the urban, and vernacular poem. It is, in this way, also an anti-imperial poem, as the conceptual strata of the work forces the reader to reconsider antecedents, literary history, and the hegemonic and imperial presage of the “pastoral” as it defines and affects an Australian concept of the pastoral. Thus the concept works to actively subvert the poem’s intent by layering meaning and registers upon the poem.

I would like to consider the ‘Cairns’ series in Hyaline in a similar manner, in thinking about the physical object, the cairn, as an object denoting a path to an unknown destination ( usually to a sacred space, or closed cultural space). Whether this cairn, by the road side, or on a bush trail, is encountered, is noticed, is followed, and if the sacred space is discovered physically by the visitor are all possibilities related to the intentionality of the signifier. Even if followed, and a sacred space noted (in the Yi Fu Tuan concept of sacred space) the contextual, religious, and ritualistic understanding of the space will very rarely be culturally understood. This may be intentional on behalf of the person signifying, or the group whose space is being marked, protected. And I take a “cairn” to be a vernacular version (an example from Australian rural life) of signification which happens in urban and rural environments alike. We encode the spaces we occupy with signifiers which are only decodable by a certain portion of the populace. A piece of graffiti, a hidden book store in Melbourne’s back lanes… these are all embodiments of a particular conceptual framing of communication– its apprehension is there for the viewer to perceive, to begin to understand, even if this is not automatically or easily registered.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Hyaline is a poetic framework for ecological codices.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The book has been in the works for years. The collection, as it is now, is a selection of some of the poems which were published during my focus on the radical pastoral. The earliest publication was four years ago, more or less. At the time I was writing with a tremendous velocity, and publishing at the same rate. Things have slowed since, due to any number of factors. There was a level of excitement which drove the work, an excitement driven by a constant and continuous correspondence with John Kinsella, Peter Larkin, Mark Dickinson, Ali Alizadeh, Edric Mesmer, and a few other poets who share the same interests and the same sense of community. Much of the work was spurred on by them, by my readings; much was created out of these interactions and discussions.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

A damaged planet. A damaged ontology. A damaged humanism.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope the book provides entryway for most readers. It contains lyric work, prose work and procedural work, all focused on ecologies of language, language usage, and mediations with the natural.

 

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Invitation to launch of Matthew Hall’s Hyaline

Hyaline Launch invite

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March 15, 2013 · 4:37 pm

‘enjambment sisters present’ by Michael Farrell – out now

Michael Farrell - enjambment sisters present cover

On the last day of 2012 Black Rider Press is proud to announce the release of enjambment sisters present, a new chapbook by Michael Farrell.

You can download the e-chapbook for free from the Black Rider Press website.

Farrell’s enjambment sisters present is a brilliant plaything, it is lithe and agile, it turns and twists and jumps across the room, finally falling in a writhing heap on the rug. It contains all the joys and “sounds [of] the nest”. Reading it will put the melody in you. – Matthew Hall

For M. Hall’s full essay, read the Black Rider Lines post

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Black Rider Lines: Matthew Hall on ‘enjambment sisters present’ by Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell - enjambment sisters present coverWhen reading Michael Farrell’s new collection enjambment sisters present, I find myself casting my mind to the work of Pierre Macherey, whose theory of literary production stressed the inherent incompleteness of the text. That, “the book [or the poem] is not self-sufficient, it is necessarily accompanied by a certain absence, without which it would not exist.”

The collection is, itself, a structure of complexity, demonstrative of both growth and decay; it is at once about the acquisition of words, assembling into the joy of the literary, and at the same time about control, contortion, the finite articulation of syllables, its careful dissection. In Farrell’s collection, then, we find a disarticulation, a pensive joy which attends the simplest utterance.

The challenge of the work is to ascertain the disarticulations of meaning, of a language which is heading in two directions at once, trading the polyvocal utterance, which stresses and strains against the limits of language, for a syntax of response, which dynamically gathers in and infolds relations with other elements.

Farrell’s poems are as set on the acquisition of language as on the construct of the domestic.

Oedipus the King, Hoicking (excerpt)

(Oedipus the King, Hoicking)

Which, playing with the notions of containment, punishment and the territorial, of the notion of home for one who argues, in ‘Schopenhauer , Ford’:

Schopenhauer Ford (excerpt)

makes the compossible claim that the lyrical ‘I’, the eyes of the poet, are tied both to the “mouth” as well as to “youth”. That the claims of articulation are tied to the past, to that which might only exist in fragmented utterances, in glimpses, in an uncertain, testing, and experiential wholeness, that allows an apprehension and renewal in retrospect.

The necessary incompleteness of the text means that the reader is a constant in the flux of the collection, a constant brace to its stutter and pulsing language. The forms and patterns break with an unceasing, teasing velocity, to which Farrell’s voice adds a sense of calm lucidity.

The repetitive patterns of ‘Some Enchanted Odding’ and ‘Schopenhauer , Ford’ are reminiscent of Marinetti or Hugo Ball, but the real treasure of Farrell’s work is in casting the world through the eyes of a child. In that, I am reminded of Hejinian’s line: “ I cannot separate lucidity from undressing” which makes a riddle out of a grammatical proposition, characteristic of her work in ‘The Composition of the Cell’.

Farrell’s fantasmic and creative imagining have the whimsy of childhood, “try this donut made out of doll rubber, tarpaper , and seaweed”; “I want to climb ha / lf an a / lpa / ca”; “If I could r / each the star / s”, which strikes me particularly as playing Wittgensteinian language games, to which children render a language malleable, mold it, create with it, stretch it over the world, and hand it back to you. As Gertrude Stein asked in ‘Arthur a Grammar’: “What is the difference between resemblance and grammar. There is none. Grammar is at best an oval ostrich egg and grammar is far better.”

Farrell’s enjambment sisters present is a brilliant plaything, it is lithe and agile, it turns and twists and jumps across the room, finally falling in a writhing heap on the rug. It contains all the joys and “sounds [of] the nest”. Reading it will put the melody in you.

– Matthew Hall

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enajambment sisters present by Michael Farrell will publish as a free download on Monday 31 December 2012. It is the fourth instalment of the Black Rider presents Lyrics series.

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Coming soon: ‘enjambment sisters present’ by Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell - enjambment sisters present cover

On the last day of 2012, Black Rider Press will publish Michael Farrell’s new chapbook ‘enjambment sisters present’.

This is the fourth instalment of the Black Rider presents Lyrics series. This chapbook will be offered as a free ebook download.

“Farrell’s ‘enjambment sisters present’ is a brilliant plaything, it is lithe and agile, it turns and twists and jumps across the room, finally falling in a writhing heap on the rug. It contains all the joys and “sounds [of] the nest”. Reading it will put the melody in you.” – Matthew Hall

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Filed under Black Rider presents Lyrics, Black Rider Press, Poetry