Roger Bannister and the Four Minute Mile

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I was sad this week to hear of the passing of Roger Bannister, the English athlete who famously broke the four minute mile in 1954. I grew up a little after that, in the shadow of World War II, the British Empire’s last gasps, the ascent of Everest and the four minute mile.

Bannister, boyish looking, amateur athlete, running around the track at Oxford, represented a particular Englishness for me, partly because my father was a runner and told me these stories too. I remembered this week that I’d written a poem that included Bannister a few years ago, so I thought I’d include it here, now.

 

Child of the Empire

I was born under
The Illusion of Progress,
raised on the outskirts
of a great empire, believing
things improve,
built things endure.

I was schooled in
The Great Tradition
near an airport
where the bright silver vehicles
of the future
descended from the blue.

I was coached in the exploits
of Roger Bannister and Baden Powell
and the self-determination of
Look and Learn
or the steady resolve of Churchill
in the Blitz.

All that certainty unravels slowly
and tangles as it does,
things change before you know them,
a stone, nestled beneath the tongue,
wont get you through all this.

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Buried Things

It’s been a recurring thread for me in my writing and thinking: the idea that there are things hidden or buried, or forgotten and still intact beneath the surface of things. It’s there in some of my earliest writing, the very title of my first collection, Lost Things, and in images like the abandoned picnic place, the lost highway, Atlantis etc.

So, of course I’d be fascinated to see, last Friday when I walked to the beach after a busy week at work, the fragments and wreckage of past structures that had emerged over the winter at my local beach.

I’d seen glimpses of early constructions before; perhaps a pier, or foundations for a jetty of some kind, but nothing like these full and intact structures that had been beneath my feet all along, all these years.

I took these photos to preserve them, before they’re buried again.

 

 

The view from the Amsterdam train

I’ve been looking at ways of presenting text online in more interesting or diverse ways. Nothing wrong with black text on a white page, but nice also to think of other ways to present and share text, with images as well. This is a new poem, using the app Adobe Spark I would have liked an embed within the blog, but the image below, which I found on Flickr, links to the poem and image as hosted on the Adobe site.

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Peninsula Writing – #6 – 1986

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The sixth issue of Peninsula Writing was perhaps the finest edition of them all. It was also the last. The magazine took on a theme approach for the first time, the Mahogany Ship, an almost mythical ship that had been sighted briefly half-buried in the sand dunes near Warrnambool that seemed to pre-date known European settlement.

This was the first cover that wasn’t by Gavin Duffy; a map of the Warrnambool sand dunes including the enigmatic site of wreck. Beyond that, the issue didn’t contain a lot of artwork.

The Mahogany Ship idea was an interesting choice, given that the Mahogany Ship history is located on the west coast of Victoria, a long way from the Mornington Peninsula. But the range of writing gathered together was significant.

The issue opened with Liam Davison’s fine story The Mahogany Ship, Melbourne poet Philip Martin generously allowed us to reprint his poem Dune Ship, which had just appeared in his own book, and he also wrote an interesting account of the genesis of that poem. followed by a poem by Judith Rodriguez The Mahogany Ship, Dune Ship on a Hot Day by Francis King, The Mahogany Ship by Warrick Wynne, Ship by Connie Barber, The Ship as Lover by Mary Chapman and The Mahogany Ship by Mimie F. Brown.

This was the first time in six issues that Liam Davison and myself had included our own creative writing in the magazine.

In the review sections we substituted the reviews for piece by Liam Davison: The Mahogany Ship in Australian Fiction

I think that issue five is the high point of the magazine, for the ideas and the quality of the writing and how the pieces bounce off each other, although you could argue that, for its artwork, issue four was the best.

There is no hint in this issue that it would be the last. In fact, the last page still seeks subscriptions. But it would be the final issue of this little magazine.

Below: Contents of Issue six

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Below: The Editorial for Issue six.

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Below: Poems by Francis King and Warrick Wynne

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Below: Extract from ‘The Mahogany Ship’ by Liam Davison

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Peninsula Writing – #5 – 1985

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The fifth issue of Peninsula Writing featured a photograph on the cover for the first time, a stylised looking shot of one of the Balcombe Army huts falling into disrepair already.

This issue featured stories by David Kerr, Michael Ellis and Alan Wayman and poetry by Dorothy Hall, Connie Barber, Karen Pridmore, Eileen Leeds, Bob Hammerly, Pamela Dell and Noel Bean.

In the reviews section, I reviewed Peter Murphy’s Lies, Poetry Australia No. 90, The Truth about Unicorns by Doris Brett and Celebration by Joy Beaudette Cripps. Anne Williams reviewed Beachmasters by Thea Astley.

By this stage we were able to list stockists: Robinsons Bookshop in Frankston, who sponsored the back cover, Farrells Bookshop in Mornington, Red Hill Newsagency, Jindalee Craft Store in Balnarring, The Haybasket in Somerville, Tyabb Antique Store, Merricks General Store, Flinders Craft Store, Monash University Co-Op Bookshop, Mt Erica Newsagency in Prahran and Collected Works in Fitzroy.

The issue featured more great artwork from Gavin Duffy.

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Below: The ‘Editorial* for Issue 5

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Below: Artwork by Gavin Duffy

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Below: Artwork – Unknown

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Below: Artwork by Gavin Duffy

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Below: Issue 4 Sold Out!

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Below: Contributors of Issue 4

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Peninsula Writing – #4 – 1985

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The fourth issue of Peninsula Writing appeared in 1985 and was the last of the illustrated covers from Gavin Duffy, an overview of a beach and perhaps Frankston Pier.

The issue featured stories by Pauline Rough, Donal Pritchard, Lynn Sunderland, Peter Murphy and grouped poems together for the first time. Poets included were Nancy Davison, Connie Barber, David Kerr, Karen Pridmore, David Turner and Shane McCauley.

In the reviews section I reviewed Geoffrey Dutton’s Snow on the Saltbush and Liam Davison reviewed James McQueen’s Uphill Runner

The issue featured artwork by Gavin Duffy and Marcus Batt.

The issue included an index of issues 1-4.

Below: Contents of Issue 4

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Below: Artwork by Gavin Duffy

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Below: Poem by David Turner, Artwork by Gavin Duffy

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Below: Artwork by Marcus Batt, Story opening by Donald Pritchard

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Below: Artwork by Gavin Duffy

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Below: Artwork by Marcus Batt, Review by Warrick Wynne

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Below: Artwork by Marcus Batt

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Below: Artwork by Marcus Batt

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Below: An index of Issues 1-4

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