Big changes in Poets Union

I’m not usually all that interested in the political and largely Sydney-centric nature of Australian poetry politics, but it sounds like big changes afoot with the Poet’s Union and the Australian Poetry Centre. This came from a recent newsletter; I’ve got to admit some of it sound pretty exciting:

Dear Member,

As you will know from previous correspondence, the Poets Union and the Australian Poetry Centre are to merge at the end of the year to create a new, truly national poetry body, Australian Poetry Limited. This merger is supported by the Literature Board of the Australia Council, Arts NSW and Arts Victoria. For the first time poetry will receive a more sustainable commitment from Arts funding bodies in order to provide a professional  service to members, support poetry groups  and have a greater influence on the reception (and promotion) of poetry nationwide. Australian Poetry will have an office in Melbourne and Sydney in 2011, with a brief to include all cities, states and territories in projects and opportunities. The purpose of this newsletter is to let you know about the arrangements and the effect they will have on your current membership of the PU or APC.

Structure and Governance

Australian Poetry will be governed by a National Board. The members of the current Board are: Chris Wallace-Crabbe (Chair), Anna Kerdijk-Nicholson (Secretary), Nell White, Marcus Powe, David Musgrave, Margaret Bradstock and Martin Langford. The Board will be responsible for the strategic direction of the organisation and advising the National Director in regard to all future plans for Australian Poetry. A National Director will report to the Board and have responsibility for the artistic program, working with a team initially based in Victoria and NSW to deliver an exciting national education, events and publications program, including the publication of high quality poetry journal. A National Advisory Council will be made up of leading poets and representatives of key poetry organisations to advise the Board and National Director in regard to the program and strategic direction of the organisation.


Following national advertising and interviews, Paul Kooperman has been appointed National Director of the organisation. Australian Poetry is currently advertising for a Publications Manager and other positions will soon be advertised for including a NSW Director and National Administrative Officer. Please watch the websites for these advertisements. You will be advised of these appointments as they are made.

NSW Director

The NSW Director will be responsible for the delivery of the national program in NSW and for initiating specific NSW projects. It is anticipated that there will be a need for a volunteer committee to assist the NSW Director. The exact nature and function  of this committee will be advised following the appointment of the NSW Director.


Current APC members will be invited to roll their membership on into the new organisation without having to pay extra joining fees. Current Poets Union financial members will automatically become members of the new organisation and receive free membership until June 30th 2011, at which time you will receive renewal notices. From then on membership will date from time of joining. Membership fees have not been finalised. They will be slightly higher than a single membership of either organisation but cheaper than being a member of both organisations. They will offer more for your money than comparable organisations. The next newsletter will provide the fee structure.


The Board of Australian Poetry is determined that the new organisation will provide services nationwide. The services may be different from the ones which you have come to expect and specific projects will change according to circumstances but the core services will include:

A National Journal, published 3 times a year (replacing Blue Dog, twice a year, and Five Bells, four times a year)

A national Website, offering a members’ only section offering updates and opportunities restricted to members only

A monthly E-Newsletter, including national opportunities, competitions and updates

Discounts to national events, readings, workshops, courses, festivals and opportunities

Discounts to other relevant organisations, bookshops and other stores who are partners of Australian Poetry

The Next Newsletter

We will be posting another newsletter later in the year which will advise you of the formal procedures for winding up the PU and APC. At this time we should be able to announce all appointments. In the meantime, please keep your eye on our respective websites for interim information.

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to frequently asked questions about the merger have been posted on the website

These answers expand on the information contained in this newsletter.

Chris Wallace-Crabbe

Chairperson, Australian Poetry Centre

Brook Emery

Chairperson, Poets Union



Poem Flow

Two recent finds have added some new poems (and some old acquaintances) to my poetry reading lately.  Poem Flow is an Iphone application that delivers a poem a day in an interesting visual video form as well as in the traditional text format if you like.

The free version gives you 30 days of poems in including some well known old favourites from Robert Frost and William Wordsworth.  After the 30 days is up you can order more poems, another 100 or so for $1.19 or something like that, which led to my first encounter with ‘The Wooing Song’ by Giles Fletcher, a poem from the late sixteenth century that I’d never seen before, and liked a lot. It’s nice to have a new poem every day to look at, old favourites and new discoveries.

And, I also downloaded the Guardian iphone application and its very good book section, which includes a poem of the week. This week the poem of the week was an old favourite I hand’t looked at for ages: Gerald Manly Hopkins’ The Windhover.

It’s interesting to see technology connecting me with four hundred year old poems I’ve never read before, and old friends I’ve lost track of. Kind of like Facebook for poetry perhaps! Anyway, here’s the Hopkins poem, a poem that I’ve always thought of as one of the first ‘modern’ poems.

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-vermilion.

Gerald Manly Hopkins

Graveney Marsh

I like Laurie Duggan’s work a lot. So much so that he’s won my Book of the Year Award TWICE, most recently for  his book of poetry Mangroves in 2004. He could easily have won it a third time with his wonderful landscape history The Ash Range, but was pipped at the post by Seamus Heaney. I’m sure he won’t mind that!

So, I was delighted to stumble upon his blog, Graveney Marsh recently. He describes at as ‘random jottings on poetry, visual culture, local oddities and the weather’. Just the things I like to read about. And it’s not the kind of blog you can easily search for and find. So, it’s now part of my regular reading list.

In Ruins

From Russia With Love

As one who has been intrigued by ruins and remnants of the past long before I read Christopher Woodward’s In Ruins, ages ago, I was interested in this blog posting about Seven Abandoned Cities, with its accompanying evocative images.

I’m not totally sure whether it’s the historical cataclysms that have left these places un-improved, the human stories and poems that they tell, the strange beauty in these fragments of lives or something else, but it’s something that has always interested me, and recurred often in my own writing. The past, the pastness of the past. Lives that were just as vibrant and intensely lived as now, but now which aren’t.  The marble statues on Delos in the Greek Islands, the abandoned farm-house at the edge of the suburbs, the remains of the cement works at Fossil Beach, the rusted foundations in the rocks of an old pier, these things ring with meaning for me.

Zestemag (is this a wordpress blog I see before me…?)

Zest is an emag created by the Australian Poetry Centre which contains news and information about the Centre and related events. It’s great to see the APC building a stronger electronic footprint and interesting (esp. for me as  wordpress user) to see this platform being used to create a magazine style format.

They say>>

Zest\zεst\ [Fr. zeste]1. n. Orange or lemon peel used as a flavouring or for preserving; also, the oil squeezed from such peel to flavour liquor, etc.2. n. Keen relish or enjoyment displayed in speech or action; the pleasure of enjoying something; gusto.3. v. trans. To flavour with or impart ‘zest’; to add a relish to; to give a piquant quality to, adding to the enjoyment or agreeableness of something.

Almighty Vanity! to thee they owe /Their zest of pleasure, and their balm of woe. –Young.Liberality of disposition and conduct gives the highest zest and relish to social intercourse. –Gogan.That sweet minor zest /Of love, your kiss. –Keats.[Adapted from: Oxford English Dictionary Online (2007)]

ZEST e-mag is…lovingly curated by Teresa Bell, Bridie McCarthy and Robyn Rowland.
…affixed to the web with clag and tape by Bridie McCarthy.
…adorned this month by a Gaetan Lee image.
…always receptive to more volunteers! Please contact if you have some time to share.


I’ve looked occasionally at online book sharing and reading sites, mainly web 2.0 sites that let you maintain your reading interests online and make contact with others who share them. goodreads is the latest, and I think the best so far. It’s big advantage is that once your account is set up, it’s VERY quick to add a book to your ‘mybooks’ site, and away you go!