Celebrating the work of Evan Jones

I received news today of a n evening to celebrate the work of Melbourne poet Evan Jones, coming up at the Wheeler Centre on Dec 1. I encourage you to begin summer the way you intend to continue, with fine poetry!

This is to let you know that an evening to celebrate the work of Melbourne poet EVAN JONES will be held on Wednesday, 1 December 2010, at the Wheeler Centre, at 6 for 6.30 pm. You are most welcome to come along and help us celebrate.

The event will take the form of readings and short tributes by a number of Evan’s friends, and his recently launched (fifth) collection of poetry, Alone at Last!, will be available for sale. Its publisher, Picaro Press, has also brought out a reprint of Evan’s acclaimed second collection, Understandings, first published in 1967 by Melbourne University Press.

Apart from the guest of honour, there will be seven programmed participants: Jack Hibberd, Rob Riel, Philip Salom, Alex Skovron, Peter Steele, Tony Thomas, and Chris Wallace-Crabbe. It promises to be a colourful event. Refreshments will be served.

Please spread the word. Our venue is the “Workshop Space” on the 4th floor of the Wheeler Centre, 176 Little Lonsdale Street (the south side of the State Library building). It should easily accommodate 50 to 60 people.


It’s twenty-five  years since the death of English poet Philip Larkin, and his city of Hull is putting on Larkin25, a celebration of his work. There’s street sculpture, theatre, readings and more. I didn’t realise that Larkin was particularly connected with any specific city; I just saw him as quintessentially English somehow, but all good writers come from somewhere. They are also trying to raise money for a statue to Larkin at the railway station from ‘The Whitsun Weddings’. I like that idea!

I hadn’t thought about Larkin for a while, but I was working with a student last year who was studying Larkin for Literature and we worked through some of those key poems together. They still hold their own, powerful for me in that twilight-y kind of sorrow and remembrance in the tone somehow.

The site says:

The aim is to mark this significant anniversary in a way that is worthy of both the poet and the city with which his creative and professional life is most associated.

Larkin25 takes place over 25 weeks,
from 12 June – 2 December 2010

A lively and diverse programme of exhibitions, events and projects inspired by Larkin’s life and work and his passionate love of poetry, music, photography and prose will engage residents and visitors alike in a range of arts activity and cultural events.

The quality of the commemorative events will be world class, worthy of a great, internationally renowned, poet and of his adopted city. Using Larkin’s artistic achievements as a catalyst, Larkin25 will present spectacular city centre celebrations, new work commissioned specifically for the festival, readings, lectures, and a high quality programme of performances and exhibitions.

Larkin25 presents a unique opportunity to take a first look at Larkin, or to take another look at the life and work of this brilliant and complex man. We invite the world to participate in, and enjoy, what promises to be a remarkable year of commemorative activities.

There’s an interesting long article on Larkin and the forthcoming book of letters in the Guardian here and the Guardian’s gathering of Larkin stuff here

Enzensberger and ‘The Titanic’

I read a nice article in the Guardian this week about Hans Magnus Enzensberger, a poet I’ve liked for along time. I’ve put his new collection on to my Amazon WISHLIST.

I was reminded of my favourite Enzensberger collection:  his long poem, The Sinking of the Titanic. Timely, given that the Titanic Exhibition is currently in Melbourne and it was Enzensberger’s poem that got me interested in that story.

Peter Porter (1929-2010)

In all the busy-ness of the ANZAC Day long weekend I didn’t hear until today that poet Peter Porter died on Friday. I’ve admired Porter for a long time, not so much for his poetic landscape – it’s not really my interest – but for the body of work he created and his truth to his vision.

Porter’s work is a bit too urbane for my taste, almost too civilized and too classical in its literary basis. I sometimes wonder what kind of poet he might have become had he stayed in Australia? Better?

But Porter’s body of work is commanding and undeniable and I heard him read a couple of times over the years and always enjoyed that experience. Some critics say he’s the best poet since Auden. Big call! But it’s undoubtedly a big loss to poetry.

Sydney Morning Herald article on Porter’s death

Guardian article on Peter Porter’s death

Daily Telegraph article on Peter Porter

Peter Porter profile at the Poetry Archive

The Plain Sense of Things


This week the NY Times reviewed Wallace Steven’s Selected Poems, including this nice quote from Stevens.

Individual poets, whatever their imperfections may be, are driven all their lives by that inner companion of the conscience which is, after all, the genius of poetry in their hearts and minds. I speak of a companion of the conscience because to every faithful poet, the faithful poem is an act of conscience.

Above: Wallace Stevens, right, with Robert Frost in Key West, circa 1940.

The Windhover

I was reading a review of a new biography of Gerard Manley Hopkins tonight and it got me thinking about Hopkins again. The review by Dennis Donoghue in the New Criterion talks about the difficulties and beauty of this poet and I was reminded of my favourite Hopkin’s poem, The Windhover, and I went back to read it again after a long break. Here it is:

The Windhover

To Christ our Lord

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-

dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding

Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,

As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding

Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding

Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here

Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion

Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,

Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

Gerard Manley Hopkins