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seething since 2001

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Category: Blogging (page 2 of 18)

As the name suggests, this category captures anything related to blogging, including tech stuff, blog design issues and day to day minutiae.

Donald G. Payne on benzedrine, baths and nymphos

After a while she realized she’d made a mistake: the sort of mistake that would never have occurred if she hadn’t been so tired. She tossed the calculations aside. She lit a cigarette, and noticed her hands were trembling. Christabel Barlow, she told herself, you’re damn-all use to anyone in your present state; you need a good sleep, a good meal and a new face; and then perhaps you’ll think straight instead of in ever-decreasing circles. But how can I eat and sleep, she thought, when so much is at stake and time’s running out, not only for Ken and Jim but maybe for hundreds of thousands of others, all over the world? And her eyes strayed to the top drawer of her desk and the little tube of tablets which she’d already delved into twice. I know, she thought, I’ll be like the nymphos in the pulp magazines: I’ll have a benzedrine and a bath.

Donald G. Payne, Flight of the Bat (1963)


I lived in Solna, a suburban hub just to the north of Stockholm, for the past four weeks.

Gosh that’s interesting.

But seriously, now that I’m over my little bit of Karlskrona nostalgia – not to mention the monumental (though strangely non-material) process of resigning as the editor of an online poetry journal – it’s probably time for me to start writing in the present, about real things like, you know, all good bloggers should.

Nah, whatevs. Here’s four pictures of the same view out my apartment window instead.

My Cordite Top Eleven!

As some of you no doubt know by now, I’ve formally stepped down as Managing Editor of Cordite Poetry Review to make way for a new editor, Kent MacCarter. In this post, I look back on my years as editor, and pick my top eleven choicest moments from what has been a thrilling, exhausting and ultimately life-affirming rollercoaster ride of love and passion. Or something.

*wipes away tears*

1. Cordite 29.1: Haikunaut

I first met Haikunaut co-editors David G. Lanoue and Keiji Minato at a conference of the World Haiku Association in Ten’ri, Japan in 2004. We really hit it off and it was also a delight to meet up again in Sofia, Bulgaria the following year. Fast-forward to 2009 and the need for a Haiku-themed issue of Cordite became clear. What started out as a mini-feature blossomed into a collection of over one hundred haiku in English, Japanese and Bulgarian. Haikunaut was our first issue to feature poetry in non-Western scripts, and it remains one of my favourite Cordite issues of all time, not least because it has embedded the word ‘haikunaut’ in the English language – also (hopefully) for all time.

2. Cordite 31.1: Post-Epic

From the shortest of forms to the longest – Cordite is nothing if not consistent. Or binary. Or both. After guest-editor Ali Alizadeh slayed all comers with his selections in the Epic issue, we decided to switch things up, with a selection of Post-Epic poems written, a line at a time, by our readers. It didn’t take long for the resident Cordite commentariat to latch on to the idea and, within a short space of time, over one thousand lines of poetry had been written. Just wow.

3. Cordite 21.1: Robo

Okay so this one’s a little obscure; in 2005, Nick Whittock came up with the idea of a Robo-poetry competition as part of his job at the St. Kilda library. He and I acted as judges, and we published the winners as Cordite 21.1: Robo. As Michael Caine would say, “Not many people know that.” In any case, I think it’s a very cute little collection of poems.

4. Cordite 16: Search

This one is also going back a bit in time; I think it must have been 2002 or 2003 when I was a member of the Poetry Espresso online poetry mailing list. List moderator Cassie Lewis invited me to be poetry editor for a month, and I invited list members to send me poems ‘composed’ using search engines. The result was Cordite 16: Search. While I’d like to think this issue came out long before Flarf was even thought of, the truth is rather more prosaic. Still, I think it’s a really cool issue, with some amazing pieces, including Carlie Lazar‘s stone-cold classic, ‘A Prank Call to John Howard’.

5. Cordite 23 & 34: Children of Malley I & II

We knew we were onto something when in December 2005, just after the release of Children of Malley, we received an email from Jen Jewel Brown, one of the contributors to the issue, in which she said: “May I say that, fun aside, these poems respresent an enormous mind-fuck of the first degree? That is to say, they really really get me off. Poetic excitement continues, courtesy of all Malleys and their intellectual whirlpools, and the brilliance of Cordite for dreaming this up and editing it.” It’s probably the most fitting testament I can think of to the editorial genius of Liam Ferney, who originally suggested the idea and then went on to select some awe-inspiring poems. Of course, the fun didn’t end there, with a protracted series of revelations as to the identities of the poets in the issue, who had chosen noms de Malley such as Flannery O’Malley, Sylvia Malley, Ouyang Malley and my personal favourite, Ern Malley’s Cat. Five years later, Liam reprised his role as Chief Malley Expert with Children of Malley II. This time around, the speculation as to the true identities of the Children of Malley was even more fierce. Stay tuned for Children of Malley III in 2015!

Image: the cover shot for Children of Malley (2005) by Flannery O’Malley (aka Adrian Wiggins)

6. Haikunaut Island Renga & Zombie Haikunaut Renga

Around the time of our Haikunaut issue, something very strange and wonderful happened. Co-editor Keiji Minato posted a series of essays on haiku and other short forms including renga, and then suggested a special Haikunaut Renga with himself as moderator. Just as would happen in the Post-Epic issue, we invited readers to leave their comments on the post and Keiji would hand-choose each of the thirty-six verses required to make the renga. We were completely overwhelmed by the response: over 1200 comments were posted, and the resulting Haikunaut Island Renga remains a staggering testament to crowd-sourced poetry. While the follow-up Zombie Haikunaut Renga, with Ashley Capes at the helm, only attracted some 600 comments, that’s still six hundred comments. Come on!

7. Cordite 22: Editorial Intervention

It may appear by this stage that my top Cordite moments have more to do with my own role as editor than with anyone else’s efforts. While that’s certainly not true – and I’d strongly recommend you check out the full list of Cordite issues to see for yourself the depth and range of talents involved in the journal – when it comes down to it, the job of an editor is a fairly thankless one, and you’ve frankly got to take every opportunity to blow your own trumpet. This was the philosophy behind Cordite 22: Editorial Intervention, which featured a selection of poems by Australian and international poetry journal editors. Because they’re awesome.

8. Cordite 33.1: CC the Remixes

Our thirty-third issue was the first to be issued under a Creative Commons license, which was kind of fitting, as its title was Creative Commons too. We made the poems in the issue available for download and then invited contributors and readers to remix the words in whatever style they liked. Our guest poetry editor for the issue, Alison Croggon, read through all of the remixes before making her selections, the result of which was Cordite 33.1: CC the Remixes. I really enjoyed this issue, although I can’t really explain why now.

9. Cordite 30.0 & 30.1: Custom | Made

I have no trouble explaining why I liked this issue: I was thrilled to bits when joanne burns agreed to edit the issue, and in fact I can reveal that the day this issue was released, Cordite achieved its highest ever number of hits. Cordite 30.0: Custom constituted a stellar assembly of poems and poets, and Cordite 30.1: Made was the icing on the cake, with each of the contributors to the issue re-mixing each other’s works. You can tell I’m into the remix concept, right?

Cordite 32: Zombie 2.0

Including this fabulously weird issue of poems was a real no-braaaaainer, heh heh. Reprising Terry Jaensch‘s original Zombie issue, published way back in 2003, guest poetry editor Ivy Alvarez managed to creep out pretty much everyone who came near Cordite 32: Zombie 2.0. Did I mention braiaaiiinzz?

11. Cordite 35: Oz-Ko

Another no-brainer. Some might say that Cordite 35: Oz-Ko should be at the top of this list but I’m not that into numbers and, besides, life is one big circle anyway. That being said, if there’s one issue of which I am the most proud, it is Ok-Ko. Originally conceived as a straightforward selection of twenty poems in English and Korean, Oz-Ko ballooned into three separate issues featuring over one hundred poems (eighty of which were in both English and Hangul), a series of features and interviews, beautiful images, poets’ tours of Korea and Australia and (hopefully) a long-lasting sense of inspiration and exchange. Ever since first travelling to Seoul as an Asialink resident in 2005, I had harboured a dream of producing such an issue. My second Asialink residency in 2009, during which I met and interviewed Ko Un, only fanned the flames. The fact that we managed to pull off such a feat is down to the hard work of the editors, translators, poets and arts administrators involved in the project. The same can be said for my time as Cordite’s editor. I seriously don’t think I will ever be involved in such an extraordinary adventure again.

*gives up trying to wipe away tears, looks back with pride and amazement instead*

Naturally, with over two thousand posts published on the Cordite site since I became editor in 2001, there is an awful lot of untold content that is not covered by this quite arbitrary Top Eleven. You can check out the Simply the Best: Cordite’s Top Thirty Posts for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011. If that’s not enough, why, just click on a random post. What have you got to lose?

Words are bullets. Poetry is code.

Cordite 37.1: Nebraska

Released in conjunction with the Cordite-Prairie Schooner co-feature, Cordite 37.1: Nebraska is a tribute to Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska album, presented by Sean M. Whelan and Liner Notes. Online now.

Side A.
1. Nebraska – Neil Boyack
2. Atlantic City – Josephine Rowe
3. Mansion On The Hill – Omar Musa
4. Johnny 99 – Gabriel Piras
5. Highway Patrolman – Samuel Wagan Watson
6. State Trooper – Eric Dando

Side B.
7. Used Cars – Jessica Alice
8. Open All Night – Josh Earl
9. My Father’s House – Alicia Sometimes
10. Reason To Believe – Emilie Zoey Baker
11. Born in the USA – Ben Pobjie*

*Bonus track

Liner Notes – Sean M. Whelan

‘Space Invaders’ (1980)

Even if Player One’s ‘Space Invaders’ was the only song to have ever been written and produced in Australia, I’m pretty sure I’d still die a happy man. This stone-cold classic hit the charts in 1980 (although it was released in 1979), and has been ingrained in my consciousness ever since. The video for ‘Space Invaders’ is also very much of its time, complete with special effects intended (I think) to resemble light sabres, kooky little space invaders frog-marching across the screen and a whole stack of dry ice.

If you check out the track on Youtube (double bonus points for the 5:50 12″ remix), you’ll see a link to a bizarre (but touching – the author of the site has now passed away) web page devoted to interpretations of the lyrics to ‘Space Invaders’. Not that there’s a whole lot to interpret, actually. Sing this with me:

Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders
Space Invaders ooooooooooh

Of course, there are more complicated lyrics to ponder. The following ‘explanation’, from the same page, should set even the vaguest of minds straight:

It’s a dark, sunken night,
I see another pale sunrise

(This probably refers to those crazy people who stayed up all night playing)

Surrounded by soldiers, glued to-the screens,

(Meaning all the other space invaders players in the arcade)

Hold back the invaders, their infernal machines.

(“Player One” is getting sick of the repeated gameplay and wants to stop but can’t. The Infernal Machines are the arcade cabnets (sic))

We fight to survive,
Running to stay alive
Our bodies aching and tired
There’s nowhere to hide
Our cover’s been blown away

(There are no more of those green base things to protect your laser, and everyone is tired from playing the game)

They’re closing in on me
Dark forces cold and unseen


Oh my hip pocket nerve, is aching again
I must go back in and fight it out to the end

(He is starting to ache from standing up and bent over playing Invaders)

Just though (sic) this would help.

Enlightening, what?

Equal parts late 1970s disco, pre-Bronski-Beat falsetto and Kraftwerk motorik chug, there’s something goofily brilliant about the whole thing, including a virtually two-bit song structure that makes me crave those early arcade games – Moon Patrol, Galaga and the rest.

Indeed, I’ll take my cheesy analysis one step further by stating that without ‘Space Invaders’ there would have been no ‘Great Southern Land’ (the sound-effect from which is very similar to one of the Space Invaders sounds).

But seriously, I just thought I’d post this number in honour of Invasion Day (previously known as Australia Day), because given the events of today in Canberra in connection with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the idea of invasion is clearly still very poignant.

Stockholm Calling

Just like a Californian burrito maker, I’ve been preventing myself from spilling the beans by keeping them strictly under wraps (rim-shot!) but now seems as good a moment as any to announce that I will be moving to Stockholm. In ten days.

For the past twelve months I’ve been living and working in Karlskrona, a lovely ex-Naval town in the southern province of Blekinge. It’s certainly been a big change from the three years I spent in the crowded cities of the Netherlands; in fact, the only place I can think of that I can really compare Karlskrona to is Wagga Wagga – although I suspect Wagga has a few more pubs than K-Town, and is probably a little warmer in the winter.

Work-wise, my stint as a post-doctoral researcher as part of the ELMCIP project has challenged my idea of what literature can and should be in a digital context. Despite having been an editor of an online journal for the last eleven years, it wasn’t until I arrived here that I really considered the myriad ways in which electronic literature can engage with readers (players, viewers, users, co-creators).

As a consequence, I consider the most recent issue of Cordite, which features electronic works for the first time, to have been something of a watershed in terms of my own understanding of e-lit. In this context, it was great to be able to interview my colleagues Talan Memmott and Maria Engberg, both of whom have a great deal of knowledge and experience of digital literature and practice.

This year has also been a great one in terms of meeting other researchers and practitioners in the field of electronic literature. I’ve attended conferences in Jyväskylä, Karlskrona, Ljubljana and Amsterdam (where I also gave a paper), and acted as a co-editor of the forthcoming ELMCIP anthology of European electronic literature. I’m also really looking forward to being in Edinburgh for the final ELMCIP conference in November this year.

On a more personal level, it’s been really fun to experience all four distinct seasons here in southern Sweden, from last winter’s extreme snow and blizzards (strangely absent so far this time around), to spring’s slow awakening, summer’s long and glorious days and autumn’s drop-dead multi-spangled beauty. Karlskrona being a town surrounded by water, it’s also been great to see some of the islands in the archipelago, go for walks along deserted rocky beaches and get lost in seemingly endless forests.

Image: Saltö Strand, Karlskrona

Of course, there’s never enough time in life to do everything on one’s personal ‘to-do’ list but I’m glad to say that I have experienced midsummer in all its ‘songs about frogs and drinking snapps’ glory; witnessed the batty antics of graduating high school students riding around town wearing sailor’s caps in the back of trucks; played some awesome games of kubbspel and mini-golf; tried and rejected the taste of sill, glögg and skagentoast; and been a part of the national celebrations when Melodifestivalen winner Eric Saade came third in Eurovision.

Now, as the nation prepares for another crop of Melodifestivalen losers, it’s time for me to move on once more. The good news, however, is that I’ll be moving to Stockholm, the epicentre of Sweden’s bizarre solar system and the home of the Melodifestivalen final. W00t!

In Stockholm I’ll be taking up a position as a research editor with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), an organisation which, for those who don’t keep up with these things, has apparently just been ranked second in the 2011 Global Go To Think Tank Index Rankings, just behind the UK’s Chatham House and ahead of Amnesty International, the International Crisis Group and any other (non-US) think-tank you’d care to mention.

I’m excited to be starting a new life in Stockholm, and looking forward to sampling the delights of the city’s bars, restaurants and cafes, as well as the multitude of museums, clubs and cultural activities on offer. Nevertheless, while it’s easy to see that Karlskrona lacks most of these things, I will miss being able to look out the window of my house and see the sea; and I’ll miss the laid-back summer days and the picture-perfect islands of Saltö, Dragsö and Langö.

Then again, if I ever win the lotto, I’m pretty sure that the first thing I’ll do with my squillions of kronor is buy a pretty little stuga somewhere on the archipelago, stock it with all manner of food and drink, and then while away my golden years playing kubb, whittling pieces of wood into ornamental pipes and distilling my own mead. Until then, I will take away many happy memories of Karlskrona, and hope to return again.

Hej då.

From the Archives: the original D/DN bio image

To celebrate ten years of blogging (!) I’m introducing a new feature on this site. Amnesia Lane is a fortnightly post featuring words, images and/or sounds from the D/DN archives, with an emphasis on items never read, seen or heard before by the discerning public.

Exhibit A: this rare promotional shot.

This image, which was taken in 1999 by Rachael Antony aboard a cramped wooden boat travelling down the Mekong River, was kindly doctored by a friend who looks remarkably like Kevin Bacon, and who had assisted me in the making of some business cards in 2005. While this version of the Davey Dreamnation business card never did manage to find its way into the hands of a single Korean salaryman, its spirit lives on today. Extra points if you noticed the headphones. And the earring.

I was inspired to dig this shot out after an online exchange with Ryan Paine, who very kindly posted a link to my poem ‘mountains of pai‘ on his blog – a poem which, along with the rest of my chapbook The Happy Farang, I wrote while on the trip where this photo was taken.

Despite the fact that poor old Bingo seems to have no idea what the poem is about, it’s nice to take a trip down Amnesia Lane, back to the days when Pai was just a quiet little town where blues bands belted out covers of “Hey Joe’ without irony.

Pat Cash on Wimbledon and tennis balls

The ITF needs to do something to help the volley because, at the moment, it has died. The attacker has no chance. Pat Rafter or me, at our best, would get smashed out there. The balls they use here are soft and they fluff up after three games. After a few games it’s almost impossible to hit a volley for a winner. They should just take the US Open ball – end of problem and it would be a much fairer tournament. It’s almost impossible for the volleyer to exist in the game of tennis. Something has to change. You can’t have a slow court and slow ball, coupled with the string technology which means the ball is coming off the strings quicker and with more spin. The rallies are going longer, there’s more injuries because of the longer rallies and nobody has done anything about it. You see all the injuries that the guys and also the women are suffering on hardcourt as a result of that. There’s three issues that we’ve seen develop in tennis that’s restricted the volley and therefore the variety of the game. One’s the strings, another is the pace of the court and the other is the ball. The US Open have a fastcourt, similar to here, but with a faster ball. They also have a women’s ball and a men’s ball. The men’s ball is slower than the women’s which is quite often why you see Venus Williams serving almost as fast as the men. But the men’s ball at the US Open is significantly faster than here. To me, the way to fix it is obvious – just take the US Open ball.

Pat Cash

Poem of the week newsletter: ten poems in!

Back in October 2011, I made the not-necessarily-epic decision to stop posting poems on this site, and to start up a poem of the week newsletter instead. So far it’s been a wild ride.

The good news is that the newsletter now has a grand total of forty-six subscribers! In addition, apart from a slight lapse over Christmas, I’ve managed to stick to my weekly schedule, with the result that I’ve now written ten brand-new poems!

On reflection, while it’s sometimes been a challenge to wake up every Monday morning and pen a fresh poem, the exercise has so far been really great for my spontaneity. It’s also been really heartening to get the occasional email from a subscriber in response to a particular poem. Here are the titles of the first ten:

(On the Tomb of) Noah Ray
the feeling after fear
i remember 제주도
done tagging!
How the cold, dead moon stayed magnetic
Här kommer allihop!
collapse menu
mark all as read
meaningful adjacency request

If that list sounds even vaguely intriguing or tempting, do yourself a favour and subscribe.

Poem Communities

Image: the Evonne Goolagong tennis wall in Barellan, Australia

My relationship with tennis was electrified by a three year stint our family undertook in a small town in New South Wales in which only four hundred people lived, but one of whose most famous citizens was the Wimbledon champion Evonne Goolagong.

At that age I was unaware of the situation in which Australia’s indigenous peoples found themselves, a mere two hundred years since the invasion of the Wiradjuri peoples’ western plains and grasslands. I was myself an agent of a white bread, monolithic culture.

Typically enough however, like most Australians, despite having no respect for or understanding of indigenous culture, I was happy to claim Goolagong as one of us. At the end of each training session, we would diligently drag the long strip of carpet across the court’s surface, erasing our footprints as we had erased those of they who had walked this earth before us.

Friday afternoon was the time for the young kids to train, with coaches stretched across all four courts. In the final moments of training we’d indulge in a game we called community (but probably goes by other names elsewhere), and which involved every kid crowding onto one court and engaging in a process of elimination.

Each player who committed an error would be forced off the court until only two players were left ‘standing’, with all the other players surrounding the court and cheering on proceedings.

This brings me to the fundamentally connected nature of people and of words. Books are like elaborate games of community tennis (or perhaps, now that we’re a bit older, beer tennis) in which the game is trying to find a single winning poem, knowing also that the beauty of these compilations and collections is that the weak sit alongside the strong, the young and the old coalesce, the short and the long, poems that would probably not talk to each other in any other setting.

These are poem communities.

In these kinds of games of community (and yes, I am toying with ideas here, seeking an in, a connection), there is no real need for a winner. The winner, as we are always told, is tennis itself.

When I speak of books as coherent communities here, I do not mean in the conventional sense of ‘oh, what a disparate, quirky and fascinating bunch of individuals whose work has been assembled here’. Despite having been included myself in several anthologies, I am not interested in the biographical components of these books.

I am interested in these books as communities of poems, not poets. It is only in this distinction that I can bridge the gap between the poem and the solo poet.

Now, back to that nagging problem of invasion.

Hourly forecast for Karlskrona (Blekinge, Sweden)

While most of my Australian friends sweat it out in typical summer fashion, here’s what we’ve got to look forward to over the next two days:

  1. Near gale, 15 m/s from south
  2. Near gale, 17 m/s from south
  3. Gale, 19 m/s from south
  4. Gale, 18 m/s from south-southwest
  5. Near gale, 17 m/s from south-southwest
  6. Near gale, 15 m/s from south-southwest
  7. Near gale, 17 m/s from southwest
  8. Near gale, 16 m/s from southwest
  9. Near gale, 16 m/s from southwest
  10. Near gale, 16 m/s from southwest
  11. Near gale, 17 m/s from west-southwest
  12. Gale, 19 m/s from southwest
  13. Strong gale, 21 m/s from west-southwest
  14. Gale, 20 m/s from west-southwest
  15. Gale, 21 m/s from west-southwest
  16. Strong gale, 21 m/s from west-southwest
  17. Gale, 21 m/s from west-southwest
  18. Strong gale, 23 m/s from west-southwest
  19. Strong gale, 24 m/s from west-southwest
  20. Strong gale, 23 m/s from west-southwest
  21. Strong gale, 22 m/s from west-southwest
  22. Gale, 20 m/s from west-southwest
  23. Gale, 19 m/s from west
  24. Gale, 19 m/s from west
  25. Near gale, 17 m/s from west
  26. Near gale, 17 m/s from west
  27. Near gale, 17 m/s from west
  28. Near gale, 16 m/s from west
  29. Near gale, 16 m/s from west
  30. Near gale, 16 m/s from west-southwest
  31. Strong breeze, 14 m/s from west
  32. Strong breeze, 14 m/s from west-southwest

The 2011 [D/DN] Top 30

Happy St Lucy’s Day!

Today is St Lucy’s Day or, in Swedish, ‘Luciadagen’.

Lavender Zine: in a matchbox!

Last week I got an untold message from Pascalle Burton:

I am delighted to announce that the Bumper Poetry Issue of The Lavender Room Zine-in-a-Matchbox is here! Thanks again for participating in the project; I am thrilled with the issue and love the range in the collection. And at over three times the size of my regular issues, it really is Bumper!

And I’m delighted to say that my poem ‎(On the tomb of) José Sara­m­ago is a tiny part of said Laven­der Room Zine-in-a-Matchbox Bumper Poetry Issue (2011)! I’m in some pretty kewl company. Check it:

Natasha L Adams / Alana Brekelmans / Sally Browne / Amanda Coghlan / Jason Darling / Connor Dee / Bruce Dorlova / Emma Farry / Andrew Galan / Joy Green / Hadley / Matt Hetherington / Sasha Jessop / Carmen Keates / Mai Lin Li / Chris Lynch / Corrie Macdonald / Vern Mitchell / Graham Nunn / mr oCean / Andrew Phillips / Jacob Polley / Doug Poole / David Prater / Tessa Rose / Nathan Shepherdson / Dawn Joy Silversides / David Stavanger / Michael D Tees / Bianca Walsh / emily xyz

And this is what the zine looks like, for realz:

You can follow The Lavender Room on teh evilz, or check out LR products on etsy. And here’s just one more look at what you’re currently missing out on:


해피 빼빼로 데이!

Happy Pepero Day - 11-11-2011!

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