Refuge Cove and other poems



I was really pleased to have some new poems of mine included in the latest issue of Eureka Street online.  Click on the image above to read the poems in the November issue.


Australian Poetry Library

I’ve had a long held dream to promote some means for teachers to get hold of contemporary Australian poetry, for classroom use, and this week I learned that the Australian Poetry Library was attempting to do just that.

Funded by the Australian Copyright Agency, there’s none of my poetry there, but there is a pretty good range of poets with extensive range of poems: 1600 from Les Murray, over 700 from Peter Porter, nearly 500 p oems from Diane Fahey. Downloading is a little clunky (PDF by PayPal) and maybe they might have been better going for a broader spread of poets (they’ve closed the site to new poems I see) and spent a little more time on better searching, but it’s a pretty impressive start.

The Disappearing

The Disappearing is a new app with a place based focus that lets you explore poems about where you are right now. Especially if  you’re in Sydney! It’s a nice idea, and they promise to expand the range of poems later on, and you can submit your own poems right now. It’s got a great looking cover, and works well. Here’s the opening screen:

You then select a location, or use the location feature on your phone to find poems around you now.

The actual poems themselves are a bit plain looking, given the nice entry to the app, but it all works.

They say:

The Disappearing is an innovative new app for iPhone, iPad and Android that (literally) explores poetry and place.

Transform the world around you with new poems by some of Australia’s finest poets, who’ve created a poetic map charting traces, fragmentary histories, impressions and memories.

Beginning with a collection of over 100 poems about Sydney, The Disappearing will stretch across Australia during 2012.

Along with previously unpublished poetry, The Disappearing features exclusive videos of readings and interviews with poets.

Users can upload their own poems to The Disappearing, preserving ideas, emotions and experiences about their own environment that vanish over time.

I love the idea, but I’ve been half in love with disappearing landscapes for ever.  Witness my Suburban Margins Project. So, I’ll be following this project with interest, and maybe contributing too. Or maybe I’ll make some new maps of my own.

Metabolism in real life

Ah, paper. There’s something about you. I’m keen on technology and I love the potential for communication that the internet brings. Even love my iPad.

But there’s something about good ol’ paper. As I remembered this week when my copy of the Australian Poetry anthology ‘Metabolism’ appeared in the mailbox. I’ve had the downloadable version for some time, and I’ve blogged about that before, but there was something nice about getting the printed version.

It was a bit damp from the rain we’ve had, and the cover was a bit bent where the postman had jammed it in to a slot that was not meant for poetry books, leaving a crease in the front and back cover that’s never going to squash away. But that’s paper. And part of what a book is.

Best Australian Poems 2011

I was delighted to receive in the post this week my copies of Best Australian Poems 2011 (published by Black Inc) This year’s edition is edited by John Tranter and includes poems by poets like Robert Adamson, Ken Bolton, Pam Brown, Sarah Day, Bruce Dawe, Geoff Goodfellow, Jennifer Harrison, Andy Kissane, Jennifer Maiden, Les Murray and Thomas Shapcott. Pretty good company hey?

My poem, The Station of the Stairs was inspired by the wooden steps up from Bird Rock Beach to the highway. I’ll put it online sometime over the summer. The book is $24.95 and I think it’s out now.

Below: The Stairs, Photo: Warrick


Last night I was watching the final episode of Rivers (featuring Griff Rhys Jones) which I enjoyed a lot (naturally enough) and there was a section where he was fishing for pike, and caught one. I immediately thought of visiting Ireland a few years ago and swimming in a lake near the northern border which was notorious for pike. The second thing I thought about was one of my favourite poems, ‘Pike’ by Ted Hughes, which I hadn’t read for a long time. But have again now! Funny, how one things leads to another.


Pike, three inches long, perfect

Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.

Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.

They dance on the surface among the flies.

Or move, stunned by their own grandeur,

Over a bed of emerald, silhouette

Of submarine delicacy and horror.

A hundred feet long in their world.

In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads-

Gloom of their stillness:

Logged on last year’s black leaves, watching upwards.

Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds

The jaws’ hooked clamp and fangs

Not to be changed at this date:

A life subdued to its instrument;

The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals.

Three we kept behind glass,

Jungled in weed: three inches, four,

And four and a half: red fry to them-

Suddenly there were two. Finally one

With a sag belly and the grin it was born with.

And indeed they spare nobody.

Two, six pounds each, over two feet long

High and dry and dead in the willow-herb-

One jammed past its gills down the other’s gullet:

The outside eye stared: as a vice locks-

The same iron in this eye

Though its film shrank in death.

A pond I fished, fifty yards across,

Whose lilies and muscular tench

Had outlasted every visible stone

Of the monastery that planted them-

Stilled legendary depth:

It was as deep as England. It held

Pike too immense to stir, so immense and old

That past nightfall I dared not cast

But silently cast and fished

With the hair frozen on my head

For what might move, for what eye might move.

The still splashes on the dark pond,

Owls hushing the floating woods

Frail on my ear against the dream

Darkness beneath night’s darkness had freed,

That rose slowly toward me, watching.

Ted Hughes