Peninsula Writing 1983-1985


Issue #1 – 1983. $3.75

Doing some Autumn cleaning over the holidays I found lots of photos that I’d not originally considered good enough to make it into a photo album, but I wanted to keep.

Among them were some photos of Liam Davison and Gavin Duffy printing Peninsula Writing in the 1980s.

Peninsula Writing was a quartely local literary magazine that Liam, Gavin and I founded in 1983 to promote and foster creative writing on the Mornington Peninsula. Liam edited the prose, Gavin created the artwork, graphics and design, including five terrific coves and I edited the poetry. We all typed, stapled and folded. The little magazine featured poetry, prose and reviews and lasted five issues.

In some ways it was the very worst time to try to publish a magazine. No desktop publishing or laser printers, or internet, we typed the whole thing out by hand, made offset masters and printed it ourselves on an offset machine borrowed from the local church. Very hands on! We struggled with all the usual stuff; distribution, advertising, sponsorship and getting the damn type black enough! If only we’d waited a few short years …

I was a bit surprised that nothing much exists about this short-lived little magazine now. Not one image on Google Search, and no article anywhere I can find. It wasn’t ground-breaking historical stuff, but it was part of a little local movement and I think it deserves a little better than nothing.

So, I intend putting together a series of blog posts, one on each issue, with some scans, lists of contributors etc., just to put the record out there. For I feel it was something worthwhile.

Below: a break in the printing. Liam Davison, Gavin Duffy and Jackie Davison (Liam’s mum, who had access to the church offset printer)


Below: Liam working the offset printer. We always struggled to get the print black enough.


Below: Me with the first copy of ‘Peninsula Writing’


Surf stories

I caught up with a lot of surfers yesterday at the 40th anniversary of the Peninsula Surfriders Club; a surfing club I joined in Year 12 in 1974. I don’t surf much these days but it was great to meet up with some faces from the past and to hear how many are still surfing, lots of them seeking out warmer climates now that the old bones don’t enjoy the cold waters of the Mornington Peninsula so much.

I’ve always thought surfing was more than just something to do at the beach when it’s hot. Maybe more than a sport.  When I was surfing a lot, I wrote about it a lot too, not so many poems but stories, articles, journal entries, trying to understand it all. I’ve got still a eighty page poetry sequence sitting in Scrivener waiting to be turned into an ebook, or a major section of some larger book someday. Maybe I should get back to that.

One of the surfers told me about a journal they liked called PaperSea, which looks part-travel writing, part surf-writing, photography and counter-culture.  Looks interesting, and good to see others interested in the subtler nuances about surfing and the sea. They write:

Creative men and women with an appreciation for hand-crafted quality will find honest stories and critical pictures about surf, travel and art from the world over.

We saw the need for a creative alternative and so we present to you a quarterly book for people who share our affinity for the ocean, creativity in its infinite manifestations and the thrills and perils of travelling amongst far away cultures.

Full-bleed images by the world’s best minds accompanied by their stories behind the moments are set alongside in depth interviews and stories. We are publishing first-hand experiences as we explore not just the beaches but also the cultures of far away countries.


It made me go back to my own work too, and see what about surfing was there already. This poem, from my collection The Colour of Maps, probably owes as much to Gerald Manley Hopkins as it does to the waves, but celebrates an early surfing moment:

The Waves in the Bay

These fine light pulses
flicker across rippling sand,
perfect solids, half-lit wedges,
tubes unravelling continually
like pvc, along a precise depth of moment
and the spilling forward motion
is thrown out and over along an angling
vortex, punching out air like engines minutely,
crackling like small arms fire
along calf-deep edges
of sandbank promontories.

Or, on still days,
with the bay
stretched taut as glad-wrap,
wrinkly, oily looking,
and strange sets,
yes waves arrive in sets
like Meccano, assembled,
dark stacked mounds of water
appearing from somewhere abruptly,
unexpectedly complete,
the bow waves of some great tanker
that passed by ages ago, perhaps,
or merely the sea itself, its slow stretching
sending children skittering
from their floatables, new water
running up the smooth sand,
lapping at towels briefly like affairs,
the old tales of the seventh wave
that sinks ships: ask sailors about it.

And then, that perfect day, the miracle,
when, after the strong wind had finally
transformed the bay’s wayward cross-chop
into lines of swell that darkened
and caved out of the cold depths like bears,
the wind swung around, and while the pulse still beat
strongly in for an hour, fading at last by degrees,
with the sun,
those perfect waves
pushed still against an offshore,
smoothing before our amazed eyes,
these natural things becoming startling,
in surfing dreams come true at last
in the temporary crossing of energies.

And as they beat, still more faintly
from the yellow sunset
and we turned for home,
they were already depleted,
and we, rubbing the salt from our eyes
as if in a dream,
could already barely recall
the moment at all,
or the first fine lace spray
off an offshore in the bay.


Regime No. 2


I love the fact that print magazines still exist for poetry and that there are editors brave and foolish enough to start new ones. Like Regime, a new Western Australian magazine that I was delighted to be included in for issue 1. It was a pretty impressive opening and now issue 2 is coming soon and they say:

Regime Books, an independent fiction and poetry publisher based in Perth’s William Street arts district, is proud to announce that the second edition of Regime Magazine will be launched on 23 February 2013 at the Perth Writer’s Festival.
Regime 02 will be launched by the editors and contributors, with readings by poets Shane McCauley and Roland Leach, and writer Michelle Faye.
The Second Edition of Regime Magazine is an impressive collection of poetry, fiction and performance writing that is Australian in essence, but international in outlook.
Not only are we proud to publish new work by Australian writers such as Geoff PageRyan O’NeillShane McCauleyKate Middleton,Andrew BurkeGraham Nunn and Roland Leach (and so many others), we include international voices such as Frederick PollackKarla Linn MerrifieldPaul Fauteux and Jonathan Greenhause.
Cover artwork is by acclaimed Sydney artist, Joanna Wolthuizen.
More information can be found by visiting our online launch invitation
Copies of Regime 02 can be purchased from our website:

If you’re in Perth for the festival get along and support new paper artefacts with poetry inside!

APJ does ‘Art’

Scan 1

‘The new Australian Poetry Journal (Volume 2, Issue 2) arrived this week, just in time to be added to my pile of summer reading.

I’ve blogged about this journal before; and it’s now beginning to develop an identity of its own, with its own cast of familiars (Robert Adamson seems to be a regular) and its own style: I particularly like the ‘Spotlight’ feature, which focuses on an established Australian poet (this time round, Francis Webb) with a little inro and some poems to remind us of the work.

This edition contains some well established names: Adamson, Luke Davies, Diane Fahey, and others I didn’t know as well. This edition is edited by Bronwyn Lea and is loosely themed around ‘Art’.

First look at Regime

Even in the digital age I’ve always felt that paper wasn’t going to go away; and that the physical object still has a nice kind of solidity and texture all its own.

So, it was good to get the first edition of new WA magazine ‘Regime’ in the mail this week and actually get to touch and feel it, and to see my poem there included too.

First impressions: nice paper, creamy kind of, good choice of fonts (printed in the USA?) and a really interesting (and contemporary, given the recent landing of Curiosity) cover: an image of the surface of Mars, courtesy of Mars. I always knew Western Australians felt isolated at times, but Mars?

And the content? Well, I haven’t read it all yet but am impressed so far with poems by Andrew Burke, Virginia Jealous, Rosalie Kiely, Yannis Hondros and Peter Jeffery (I always start with the poems!).

And, if there’s a theme or distinguishing kind of feature here, maybe its hint is in the cover and its reminder of worlds beyond ours, as some of the interesting stuff I’ve noticed here first has an almost historical kind of long-lens at work; of worlds before, after and alongside ours.

You can order your own copy of Regime #1 here.