Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Review of Paul Kelly's 2017 album/CD Life is Fine

            by John Kinsella

Life is Fine is a great album — that is, if we agree such accolades can be applied to a creative project, then it is certainly true of this one. It’s so solid, and compacted, and yet full of easeful flow and even patience against barriers of tension and confrontation. No technical ragged edges in terms of its construction — not that there's anything wrong with ragged edges, but this album is musically tight and lyrically perfectly co-ordinated — yet it still has elements enough of rawness and ‘the occasion’ to give a fresh and tuned-in immediacy.

Four of the songs were co-written with Bill Miller, and Kelly is always in collaborative synch with the musicians he works with, sharing a vision. That’s what I respect so much about him — his open ear, open mind, and enthusiasm for sharing and discovery. And given that the title and the lyrics of the title song come from African American poet Langston Hughes, the complexity of irony and affirmation  might be lost in the cultural transfer/borrowing, but Kelly is a culturally sensitive and respectful artist who listens and connects without appropriation, his music in dialogue with the original text rather than leaning on, taking, or extracting. Kelly’s is an art of moral integrity as well as a rocking and swinging engagement with the spontaneity of music, and the moment. And he understands the drives of poetry like few other musical performers, singer-songwriters.

If there are ragged edges, they are emotional and creative and fully engaged with; they are in(side) the self battling to find the positive, to keep on top of life — never easy. Those personal ‘ragged edges’ are kept vibrant and dynamic by the superb containment field of the harmonies, of the lead lines, of the shapes of music as a whole. There’s a real literary sense of form in this.

What really makes it occasionally grungy and always tough, even in its ‘sensitive’ personal moments (we might actually believe his love songs!), is the fact that 'trouble' is always close by, that a fall is possible, that the persona knows the threat. We don't know if a crisis will be avoided, we don't know the persona won't 'embrace' it or fall to it, but we go with 'his' hope, we travel the road with him, sail the waters, keep our head above water. We're all okay, too, but only just. Or just maybe. We have to be, we have to try in the face of. And only just is enough to cling on to — the only quota of optimism we can have. Which, strangely, makes the album a celebration of life, love, and survival. In a world of oppression, Kelly offers possible ways out, but all of these are inevitably fraught, zigzagging their way through existence. Langston Hughes knew about oppression big-time, and yet he revivified the word, and in the many threads of the Harlem Renaissance we have confrontation and joy at once, a taking-on of the inequities, injustices and downright wrongs with energy, life, creativity, and optimism in the strength of black Americans in the face of segregation. Hughes could also see the fetishisation of black culture by white culture, and wrote texts that resisted marginalisation, that claimed space for themselves and African American people and culture. Listening to Kelly, one can feel assured he knows what all these mean. The implications.

For me, the essence of Kelly’s album, and maybe a lot of his work, is that on the edge of collapse we find beauty, we survive, and there’s hope. And we flow with the extended metaphor of water generally — ‘waving not drowning’, but also Odysseus wandering his slow and contested way home. Though this album is really something of an 'epic', it’s not an overblown one, never. It’s too minimalist for that. A paradox of richness and constraint. Here’s an artist adept at the idiom, who speaks to the world in a consciously ‘Australian language’, and is comfortable doing so. Nothing contrived about it.

We might admire the album’s shifts from swinging rhythm to foreboding — the keyboard/s really make that work so well. L
uscombe's drums/percussion are constrained, but you feel they might let loose — calm before a storm, which is held back. Instead, they taste of the air after rain (and sound of it). Perfect drumming — never in excess. And the bass lines and keyboards selective and generous at once. The guitar/s live between lead and rhythm, between the strum and the pick, and speak as much as the words they are in dialogue with. Liminal stuff! A true conversation of poet and instrument/s.

Let’s admire the 'natural' feel of the recording all the more in the context of this controlled sound. There's nothing pat or formulaic about it, and even the Homeric stock epithet of 'rosy-fingered dawn' is given new life — an accomplishment. It lifts onto the screen!

Kelly is a 'master' of the lyrical segue into key, lifting the word to the music, and more vitally, the music to the word. This is the toughest balancing act — maybe only a 'lifelong' practitioner lyricist/poet/composer can achieve this 'balance'. It's exciting to listen to — the lyric in dialogue with the music, the harmonies offsetting. He achieves a contrapuntal drive with a haunting, sometimes frightening beauty (‘I Smell Trouble').

The Bull sisters are in sublime form on Life is Fine, and 'their' songs are on playback loops in my head. And 'petrichor', one of my favourite words, is given life as the word itself (Russian formalists' ostranenie at work - brilliant!), and Kelly actually gives words odour — you can smell and see the texture of the land. This sensory explosion is subtle, building, and actually exciting in an epiphanic way — that's what makes a love song something else... it’s what makes it universal poetry, yet also so personal. That's the key to this album of slippage between self and society — the individual expressed against a collective, greater world. A lyrical vocabulary of encounter in which the texture of strings is strong, forceful and yet forgiving as well. It also beautifully escapes gender-prisons in surprising ways — as we glissade from one verse to another, as we bridge to the outside world.

And yes, play it loud (as was suggested to me), which in that paradoxical way also emphasises the quiet moments, the moments of witness and encounter, the seeing of the rising moon together. Every song builds lyrically and musically and remains self-contained while reaching out to others songs on the album, like a book of interconnected stories, like a narrative poem. Something of the epic in this, but broken down, and with the delicacy (and intensity) of the seasonal haiku. A polyphonous cultural experience. A musical interlude in a time of crisis. 'Life is fine' — we don't need to jump, even if we are compelled to consider the pressures around us. Resurrection in this, but also the wonder and complexity of spiritual and pragmatic strength. A cycle of songs that respects the space in which it is created — so much rests on the decisions we make. I find it particularly interesting how the persona of the songs doesn't name or know the names of, say, species of birds and trees, but likes to hear them said by someone close. This essence of connection with place is in the vicariousness.

So, maybe it’s Paul Kelly’s masterpiece, or certainly one of them. I re-hear ‘I Smell Trouble’ and the album’s themes haunt and disturb me all over again. Song after song accumulates — and for me, that’s the essence. The album as a whole. The many Kelly moments across the years I cherish are distilled here in one way or another, and then take us elsewhere — from the vocalising spirit of The Merri Soul Sessions to the energy embodied in, say, the bluegrass reversionings and surprises of Foggy Highway (Paul Kelly & The Stormwater Boys), and all the rest of that wondrous song writing poem-making that Kelly weaves in and through his music. This is an album of embodiment. And the final song, ‘Life is Fine’, a setting of lyrics, as noted, by Langston Hughes, takes us into the depths of trauma mediated by the desire and intensity for living: ‘I could’ve died for love/ But for livin’ I was born.’ And Kelly’s setting is a reply and a dialogue with the Hughes lyric — Kelly respects and connects, and never misrepresents or makes false claims. Kelly is adept at making music around pre-existing poems — his fusions are generous, comprehending, and, as said, respectful. In loss we confront extremes and we come out of it calling for life!

But don’t think for a moment that this album doesn’t have moments of levity — it does. As any journey across land or water requires — shifts in tone, the light and the heavy, the aware and the surprised. It’s a work that lives outside its packaging, even its form — it reaches into lives via experiences of life. It lives, it rocks, it sings, it critiques, it respects, it surprises, it survives.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Claire G. Coleman’s Terra Nullius – Bold and Compelling

By Tracy

“That night, as the moon rose, the Natives demonstrated their Native dance and song. Grark noted to himself, not yet trusting his mouth, that all their culture was considered worthless, except those parts that his people found beautiful. After the dance they sang a haunting lullaby from his own people...
... When he went to bed, after being introduced to the children, that sound, that singing was still playing in his ears.”
(Terra Nullius, pp. 232-233)

Claire G. Coleman’s novel Terra Nullius (Hachette 2017), the outcome of a black&write! Indigenous Writing Fellowship and described as “dystopian” and “speculative”, is a work of defamiliarisation. Narratives you may know, or think you know, will not feel or look the same way again because of this book. For this reason, telling too much about the contents will diminish the first-time experience – but that does not mean there’s nothing to say about the book.

It’s a compelling story of imaginative power – of multiple protagonists and multiple journeys, criss-crossing and converging, characters under pressure to move or trying (in the antagonists’ case, wanting to keep a grip on power) to hold still despite the desire to “go home”. “Home” itself as an idea has been radically destabilised – invasion, dispossession, and cruelty mean that for the colonised, survival has come to entail constant motion and dispersal.

It’s interesting that Coleman wrote the book “while travelling around Australia in a caravan”, because it echoes that onward thrust, the urgency of movement, that pervade the narrative. This is not accidental – as noted in the Guardian: “Her own peripatetic lifestyle flowed into her writing”, or as Coleman herself explained the mode:

“The feeling of travel, of not knowing where you are, of landscapes constantly changing. I think that disoriented sense of time and place was important, because a lot of Aboriginal people have felt very displaced and disjointed, and have a history of feeling like refugees in their own country.”

Coleman, who identifies with the South Coast Noongar people, has referenced Tolkien and Mary Shelley in an online feature as inspirations (an author’s note at the end of the novel itself also acknowledges influence from Aboriginal writers such as Sally Morgan, Kim Scott and Doris Pilkington Garimara). The hubris that drove Victor Frankenstein is here in the hubris of the colonial “experiment” on all scales – as John Rieder points out, Frankenstein has “a certain amount of explicit colonial content” but the Creature’s “progression” also structures a polemics – there’s an allegorical level to it.

In Coleman’s novel, allegory folds in upon itself in an uncanny mode – the narrative is both familiar and strange in a way that breaks open at a certain point and then rides tandem or side-car, or runs parallel, inviting readers to adjust their understanding. It is this-place and not-this-place; our-history and not-our-history at the same time: in the gaps are the what-ifs, the possibilities, the imaginative potential.

If “Australia” refuses to acknowledge fully, and to redress, its historic and contemporary treatment of Indigenous peoples, this novel will re-envisage the trauma and the resistance, the ongoing survival and hope, so as to make them visible again and again, which is why I began with the word “defamiliarisation”. It’s a timely book to make you think and re-think – a bold, energetic and provocative novel for a general audience, but also well-suited, in my opinion, for study in secondary schools.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Help Save Barrabup Forest... Please!

Some of you will have followed the litany of destruction of habitat at Golden Bay in Western Australia. We need positive, non-violent, assertive action, to articulate a collective poly-environmental/ist approach - 'literary' and/or otherwise. Now Barrabup Forest just outside Nannup is under threat. In terms of preventative action, for those of you not only in Western Australia but wherever, this requires immediate support. See here for petition. Below is a poem written for the forest, and in support of those people working so hard to save it.

For Barrabup Forest

‘assessment of a harvest coupe within Barrabup forest block following public concerns the coupe contained old-growth jarrah forest...’
            Government of Western Australia, Department of the Premier and Cabinet

It’s been eight years since we were last in Nannup,
passing Barrabup with its old-growth jarrahs

holding the world together, and a decade now
since I walked and wrote local forests

and said above all else we must be wary of dieback.
Beyond beauty, this is forest that reaches into identity,

that holds together the spirits of all who come into contact,
who open themselves to its intensity, its purpose.

And now, re-survey reveals the truth of public claims —
43 hectares of old-growth jarrahs, but only 43 hectares of 530

that will be set aside, will be exonerated, will live independently
as if the world around their reaching back, far back

does not and did not exist, as if their survival is not connected
to what they’ve nurtured back into shape, into forest

as if old jarrahs are indifferent to what’s around them, disconnected,
their fates not entwined to the fate of younger, surrounding forest.

No, they need the support system that’s managed to maintain them,
give home to the networks of life. As the imprint of past visits

makes us who we are, for those who live in the rays of sunlight
filtering through, and the shadows, a knowledge of joy and trauma

entwine, enjamb day-to-day lives, too. Dieback will be let in through the door,
along the hacked and bulldozed road, the desecration of logging will isolate

and entrap, and all life in the realm of the coupe be surrendered
to the interest of profit. To name creatures falling endlessly:

Western ringtail possum, startled Western brush wallaby,
Baudin’s cockatoo, and the Woylie  ringing generational changes

outside human science. And yes, I will be down again soon to experience
the last wildflowers, the utterance of a forest’s claim to aesthetics

beyond human understanding. Will the pink fountain trigger plant
still be with us, telling us its truths? Will the forest still really be a forest?

I have seen so many forests felled to stumps, to nothingness.
We all die tree by tree, coupe by coupe. All of us. All of us.

            John Kinsella

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Poems Against War: A 'Journal' from Childhood and Teenage Years

War Games

1. Fort — Da!

The two ‘nature-loving’ boys set up fort
by laying branches across the apertures
between old wandoos — a clump
of trees on the middle of the paddock.

We — the ‘war boys’ — didn’t
expect it, trekking across open territory,
heading for the cover of the Top Bush:
the wandoos a safe place to munch

biscuits we’d packed before
leaving the farmhouse. It was
a strategic position because contours
and firebreaks took you right

past it — the paddock a killing
zone, all lines of sight and minefields,
thin green crop only up a month...
walk through there and there’d

be hell to pay. Looks are deceptive.
We’d let down our guard, coming
up to our ‘safe place’, but truth is
it’d long been a contested space:

the others liked to listen to the parrots
cavorting overhead. There’d once been
an echidna working termites in a hollowed
log. Large insects worked shadowy bark.

And so when we fell to the hail
of clods — boondies
mud peppered with gravel,
the upturnings of the plough

where wheat hadn’t set at the edges —
maybe we shouldn’t have been startled.
This was an aggressive environmentalism
we’d guessed might be possible, but

had rejected as being out of all
proportion. Brother to brother,
cousin to cousin, the hail
came from the peace-lovers,

while it was we, in our fatigues,
who yelled louder than the tractor
straining through boggy ground:
Not fair not fair! This is all wrong.


A statement I am still
trying to work out
over forty years
later as I pass
another sign
pointing to the remnants
of an ancient Celtic hill fort,
so attractive to the invaders
long after.
                   And on Wheatlands farm,
it was alliances between Celt and Saxon
and Celt on restless, hyperventilating land.
Alliances against the ‘wild Aborigines’
who we knew must come with spears
and vengeance. Why wouldn’t they?

Ambush: Latin to French to English.
I don’t know the Noongar word.

What right do I have to the devices
of language, the codes
of resistance?

What right to remember
what I remember.
The era, childhood,
the legacies,

2.  Scale Models

Airfix. Miniature. To scale.
Bedroom festooned
with armour, bristling
with tanks and anti-tank
guns — terrain & camouflage.

Leopard tanks, Shermans,
Centurions. Catalogue.
Library. Firepower.

Amassing strength.
Deflecting shells.
Blitzkrieg a-political
masculine word choice.

I’d tried everything else
I could think of. I didn’t
believe in destiny
though I feared fate.

3. ‘I don’t want to play wars.’

Said my younger brother
as I flung Cape lilac berries
at his head. Me, kitted
out in constructor’s safety
helmet, home-made ‘rifle’,
backpack and ammo pouches.
I had fought many enemies
and triumphed but there
was no body count
outside my head.
I needed independent
verification of casualties:
at least one ‘severely wounded’
who might be treated: I carried
a genuine first aid kit.
This was the path to being a general.
My father had nothing to do with it,
being ‘Up North’ and having
done his time in Nashos —
served with Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer,
missed Korea and Vietnam
as the timeline unwound.

4. Movies

Primed in black & white, Saturday arvo
war movies on wet winter days — quagmire,
trenches, bogged down in Audie Murphy.

So obsessive, I spent the time spotting
inconsistencies in weaponry, uniforms,
ordnance — historical anomalies,
being in possession of the facts,
the truth, as I was.

                                  Don’t argue
with me — do your research, mate.
I saw the colour of the battlefield,
never the colour of the blood.

5. Purnell’s History of the Second World War

Purnell’s every Saturday morning for a year
ordered through the local newsagency.
And more. All going smoothly in the fields
of death, campaigns across the steppes,
Battle of the Coral Sea, Fortress Europe.
Then the Holocaust Issue. Then silence.
No wars for the week. No recreating
battlefields in bedrooms. No self-control
to make general staff material.
And I was too young to read Celan
and find a way through poetry.
I was too old to want to die
in the trenches.

6. War Games

Strategy games. Too old to kill each other in the backyard,
the mind wants more — campaigns, scenarios, turning
the tides of history. The SS Death’s Head Division
a black counter on the hexagon of country, terrain.
Attack strength, defence strength, capacity
for movement even when supplies
are in short supply on the front elsewhere.
Clinical as reading Wilfred Owen at school
and perfectly understanding the poetic effect
of horror. The slips between writing and reading,
taking orders and giving orders. Who said,
‘Different wars...’ or ‘Every war is different...’
No one, I hope, no one. Though I imagine
it’s likely, and I thought it back then.

7. Debate

Reading Clausewitz On War and Guderian’s Achtung! — Panzer
(the allies didn’t charge him after the war and he was valorised

as an acceptable incarnation of the elite soldier... something
for those who love war as a human quality — deep in their souls —

to cling to) and Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico
and Sun Tzu ur-text The Art of War, I was a full bottle

on why wars are: inevitable, necessary, desirable.
I am — point blank — too humiliated to recount

the details of my argument, and unwilling to hide
behind the smokescreen: ‘I was given that side

of the debate... the rules, the art-form, the discipline...’
qualities I have no belief in now, and probably not then.

And the Head Girl, taking the side for peace,
argued with as much passion against war

as I did for. A professional cool, a studied vehemence
was my guiding light.  And the war-loving boys

who made my life hell — physical and sexual
and psychological abuse — looking on

to see their future commander in action!
I could tell them that Master Sun said...

‘Exploit the enemy’s dispositions
     To attain victory’

But the spies among my own team
sold me out — a pathetic specimen

to lead the assault,
conduct their war.

     John Kinsella

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Book That Would Have Been: On Scott-Patrick Mitchell's Unpublished Manuscript Vade Mecum

Introduction to SPM’s Vade Mecum

            by John Kinsella

We have: eros, psyche, ‘the mountain, the valley, the river, the tree’. We have self, we have process and other selves, we have nature. We have language, loss, and intense desire to heal. ‘Desire’ is a word in the dictionary we’ve missed really coming to grips with. It’s so much more expansive than definition allows — SPM expands our understanding, the possibilities. So much of this is shadowed in this text we perform in our own ways, spaces.

Moisture, stars, The Lord’s Prayer rewired and defused, a guide to ways of expressing love and the right to speak it. Healing, the medicinal, reassurance, affirmation in the face of a tense world and its ironies, bodily alchemy, the human as the cat’s familiar, the beauty of abjection, fluidity, and the friendly face of (nonetheless) sharp satire. SPM delights in recontextualising language, taking a nineteenth-century cliché as an erotic and semantic ploy — ‘dew’ is the pun par excellence, sincere and disarming.

‘a salem love poem’ interplays convention and filmic representations of ‘American’ self-originating stories that base themselves on the anxiety of displacing the native American belongings with new world ghostings, of witches escaped from the old world to destabilise the colonial presence. In such slippages are SPM’s voicings — his bricolage of presence, made up of all he watches and experiences, those semiotic feedings of a wired-in life that is cybernetic, and feeling the angst and pain of love’s pleasures and failings. Burnt offerings, swords to ploughshares, witches as victimised, the colonial imposition — at stake, the self-given in a risky world of no clear meanings, where text is the pattern we make for ourselves to state innocence and culpability woven together. How can a love poem declare itself in the contradictions?

SPM is not going to play ball with a dick pic. He might not send it to the mother of the offender (fair move after warnings have been issued and little choice is left!), but he’s going to tackle any imposition with what it deserves. He is conscious of boundaries, and he is going to differentiate between the rights of text to go where it will, and the rights of the self to declare what is appropriate or not. What goes, and what doesn’t, is in flux, but ‘no’ means no, as it always should. There’s a highly attuned sensibility when personal and political rights are contesting for space in a consuming, capitalised world. The right of presence, to share without constraint, doesn’t mean the right to objectify and to take away from intactness. Desire and imposition are not yoked in sexual discourse:

words like stretch & choke
spill freely from this bloke
as he objectifies me into the
object i will never be

Love and desire, lust and consummation, are not about imposition. Again and again, these are poems of rights, poems of language’s possibility to extend outside the status quo, to particularise and universalise at once, over and over, but to know respect and intactness of self and community. Complex conversations that need to be had through puns, play, and concise expression. This is a poetry that knows — that is unrestrained in the references it feeds on and feeds out, will revalue ‘tired terms’, and invigorate the unexpected as well — a vibrant even playing-field of wit. We are we, and us is I, and yet unappreciated as a self the pursuer wants us to perform, to role-play for them, but forgetting we too have roles and subjectivity. Now, there’s a generous willingness to play along, as desire says so, and love definitely insists, but not at the loss of self-respect or rights to be loved as well. It’s not simple, ever, but it can be rendered in the beautiful, in the gesture of the love poem. A dawn moment, an aubade that is love of the world as well. Again, mutual and proliferating respect.

Such a desire for living, to be alive, and to share that. In the containment of the poem is the proliferating largesse, the welcoming on the journey — intimate companionship. Polysemous love and desire out of a invigorating view of body and spirit, in which the trans is the normative and a worldview grows and expands as inclusive is what is and what has been hidden by the repressive control mechanisms of states, and their tooled-up iron maidens of gender, sexuality identity control. This is a book of liberty and freedom with awareness running in-sync with a desire of just outcomes.

Elegy — the loss of a sister anchors us to the narrative of life as performance, as crisis, as vulnerability. What is left after loss? It’s powerful because it isn’t easy, none of it.

Celebrity is local, not mass, poetry is the breath, as Yoko says to SPM in the twittersphere, but even more than the unspeakable, it’s the unbreathable which in pain but a desire for what’s best and loving and durable is the poem’s compactness and levers of pleasure and intense sadness working herein. We are loved by SPM in this, and we need to love him back. We can, you know. And in such respectful and varied and varying ways. So many degrees of encounter and so many words we still need to conjure, just to make do. The wet of death, the wet of love, the saline solution that conducts the currents across states of being. We share in our differences; we make the larger thought patterns in speaking, in breathing others’ breath.

Our chant communication, our ‘post-verbal’ poetry is also a delving into the choate, the inchoate, the pre-speech. Not post-structuralist only, but a conversation across the linguistic tree, its branchings. And so what do we give and receive outside prosody, outside the organisation of a poem? The mouth moves, and the eyes see inwards — there are no physical or psychic ‘impairments’. All differences are gains. The lexical is just one path. Other paths, so many others, are vibrant within these containment fields of language that let go, let go, let us in. Share. Osmotic. Where Kurt Schwitters saw his vowels go outwards and echo, a resonance that might have to come, that has happened, is doing. Beyond. Deep pragmatics of needing a poetics of inclusive beyond. These are our poems, too. In the teaching and receiving, receiving and teaching, the mentoring and being mentored, in the open collaboration. In the cipher, the shaman, the medium. We are here, too.

And in the fake-news world, the Lincoln residues. But this is non-violence, only the violence refracted through the performative act of power. The tyranny that wills its violence. The theatre is not real, though Lincoln fell. The metaphor for violence is horrifying enough. Peace. Pacifist language must step in, calm the choir, the hecklers, the hawkers of hate speech. But the terrible possibility of violence is there — violence making violence. And that’s terrifying.

But the poem enacting is costly and difficult, and people don’t always get it, even close people. Yet people need poems for them, and poems must be written for them — it’s compulsion, need, and much more... ineffable:

being a poet is like being an addict
because your sister will send you
text messages that read you fucking
junkie poet cunt, why don’t you go
& get a real job & she doesn’t know
that you do indeed have one: your
job being to open the souls of every
person you meet to the mightiness
of the unknown, a thing you can
achieve if you have that singular
right perfect poem

Being an unromantic romantic can be devastating, and shares qualities of and with addiction/s.

Orthography is survival in a violent world, not only a mirror. Loan poem, learning to read, rehabilitation of definitions, the list and its echoes.

This book is to the memory, to the body, to the being of sister. Sister lost cannot be rebuilt but the breath is present and moving and still there. Elegy is conceptual sprung rhythm. We have, in ‘the white lilly’, the matter-of-factness of it, the loss... the need to write the poem, to write the poem for them, those who have lost life, for life itself. The poem resonating for her — recuperative in some ways, in ways:

when you lose a sister
to cancer, you sometimes
wish you could remove a rib
rebuild her into being, but ya
bloodwork don’t match, even
though, when you use that
face app, to find out what
you would look like as a
woman, her face pouts back

There is disturbance out of loss — desire becomes distressing and its path to redemption is troubled, self-punishing. The sense of self collapsing is thwarted by redefining the self in the world outside the body, the flesh, the psyche. An anxiety over death is a search for reason, a need for ‘elegance’, as if form has some way of holding back loss, emptiness. A process of rebuilding, of manoeuvring out of the way of the ‘fuck off we’re full’ horror of right-wing bigots.

There is nature, and it is outside the self, though to merge with it is redemption, too. Yes, yes... Lake Monger, the moorhens, the swans, what the line actually takes us to. Cough of an ibis, secular resurrection of suburban — the ‘bird poem’ as encounter with so many threads of enculturation, and of bird itself. Yes, nature is rising in the breath as it was always there and always will be, and we need to stand against the exploiters and protect the spaces where the bulldozers go. Yes, you and I and we and he sang to the bulldozers — we were there, all of us. I know the mantra, so do you, and so does SPM. Concern is part of it, being active and out there and speaking our breath is essential. Self is nature, too. We owe it. We owe culture. We need to listen and touch and see and sense and make poems as we can, any way we can. And wet is water and it has a structure and ecology, and makes. This is city speaking. This is city more than buildings. This is city community people nature and buildings. This is Perth, this poem book. This making. This respect. Listen. Breathe.

*Note: Due to the closing down of the original publisher, the work in the manuscript discussed above will eventually appear in a different form/arrangement with another publisher.