Yes, in the words of Jersey-based pop band Real Estate, ‘It’s real!’
Seven years in the making.
Trans-continental in its composition.
Green as a blade of grass in its wrapping.
Leaves of Glass is real.
‘But what’s it all about …’ I hear you whisper.
Well, as I’ve explained here and here and here, Leaves of Glass is a book of poems (47 in all) based on actual correspondence between American ‘Dead Poets Society’-inspiration Walt Whitman (W.W.) and Aussie no-hoper poet Bernard O’Dowd (B.O’D.). These two cats wrote letters to each other in the 1890s in which they poured their hearts out to each other and generally raved on.
In fact, to be honest, most of the outpouring and ranting was on the part of B.O’D. For his part, W.W. seems to have enjoyed the attention, and wrote back to B.O’D with a sort of ‘I’m amused but only in a flattered way’ tone, as if he’d known him his whole life. Between them, W.W. and B.O’D. racked up at least twenty letters, although it’s apparent that many of the letters are missing.
All of which possibly does little to explain why I became so fascinated by this weird ‘roaring days’ correspondence. Call me old-fashioned, call me what you will — I guess I just found the whole thing kind of funny and sad at the same time: funny because B.O’D. was so obviously besotted with his ‘revered master’, but sad because the two of them were unlucky enough to have been writing a century too early to benefit from the Internet and email.
Anyway, my book – called Leaves of Glass in homage to Whitman’s Leaves of Grass – takes the correspondence as its cue and features poems about both B.O’D. and W.W. as well as re-writes (cover versions) of their works. It’s published by Puncher and Wattmann and is available via the P&W website and in all good (read: about two) bookstores. Or, if you’d like a signed copy, send me a message.
The first ‘launch’ of the book took place at Bella Union bar, Trades Hall, Melbourne on 1 December. The second will take place at Balmain Town Hall on 14 December. Information about both events can be found here. You can also sign up to attend the Sydney event via the Facebook event page.
The book, which was inspired by actual correspondence between Walt Whitman and Australian poet Bernard O’Dowd, and which features re-imaginings of both poets’ works, will be available at two P&W events in Melbourne and Sydney in December 2013 – that’s less than two months from now!
I’m also happy to say that I’ll be in attendance at these shindigs in order to read some poemz, sign autographs and mainline champagne. I’ll post more details soon but I’m looking forward to catching up with loverz of all things Whitman, O’Dowd and Oz-po.
In the meantime, here’s a teaser: ‘O Kitteh! Meh Kitteh!’, a LOLCats transliteration of Whitman’s ‘O Captain! My Captain!’ that may or may not appear in the book.
Final Friday 2010 Contents: 1. Anti-Kraak 2. Cute 3. Oz* 4. Sunshine for Kim Dae-Jung 5. Come with me, through 6. dress young 7. Gowayz ob LOL: "O Kitteh! Meh Kitteh!" 8. days roaring * external link 24-page A5 chapbook, staple-bound (15 printed) Published by sydneypoetry.com Design and layout by Adrian Wiggins Cover image by Adrian Wiggins, 'Installation by Melik Ohanian in Georges Pompidou titled 'Slowmotion - From Slave to Valse'.
Actually, it came online about two weeks ago, but I’ve been away on holidays and thus neglected to update the [d/dn] before now.
Anyway, the issue, which has been guest-edited by Ivy Alvarez, contains forty new poems, plus interviews, feature articles, audio poetry and illustrations.
It may also contain braaaiinz.
As part of the issue we have also launched our second Renga experiment. This time, we’re calling it Zombie Haikunaut Renga and our guest renga master will be Ashley Capes. So far it’s attracted more than 75 comments, and we’re only four ku in!
Finally, we’ve opened submissions for our 33rd issue, Creative Commons. The poetry editor for this issue will be Alison Croggon. Visit the website for details of how to submit, using our untold new online submission form!
Thanks for your support of Cordite, and I hope you enjoy perusing the contents of the Zombie 2.0 issue online.
David “Braaaiinz” Prater
Cordite Poetry Review
Actually that’s not entirely true: it’s first of all my previous incarnation as an Australian writer in Seoul that’s catching up with me, in the form of an article in this month’s Victorian Writers’ Centre newsletter entitled ‘Year of the White Tiger and Steam: David Prater describes his name-changing three months in Seoul’. While the article doesn’t actually ‘reveal all’, seeing my residency described in print does make it all seem less ‘unreal’, if that makes sense. It’s also nice that they’ve included an extract from my poem, Turtles for Myron Lysenko in the issue.
Another more surprising ‘re-animation’ event occurred two weeks ago when Wollongong-based surf literature magazine Kurungabaa contacted me by email to say that two of my poems – ‘Storm Girl’ (draft) and ‘Merry Weather’ – would be forthcoming in their next issue in print. As someone who lived in Wollongong as a teenager, and who even after a week-long surfing course could barely manage to kneel on a surfboard, it’s somehow gratifying that two of my only-vaguely surfing-related poems have made the cut.
It’s kind of ominous that the date of publication for Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing 1 is April 1, particularly given that this is also the launch date for Cordite Poetry Review’s next issue, the undead-inspired Zombie 2.0. On the other hand, it’s great that two of my poems, namely ‘(On The Tomb Of) Agnes Smedley’ & ’I couldn’t agree with you, more’ (first posted here and here) will be included in the anthology and thus return from the dead in print.
In other dead poet news, two of my ‘Leaves of Glass’ poems – ’Gang Languid’ & ‘Algae’ – are forthcoming in Southerly‘s special poetry issue (69.3). Leaves of Glass is a book-length MS based on correspondence between Walt Whitman and Bernard O’Dowd. Three more from the same series – ‘Dawnward’, ‘Oz’ & ‘The Campfires of the Lost’ – have also found a home, but more on them soon. The Southerly issue will be launched at the University of Sydney (in the John Woolley Building Common Room, in fact), where twenty years ago this week I first started out as a student of English, and then Australian literature.
The return of the memory of myself as a tragic young (still seventeen, in fact) poet, moping around the corridors of the Woolley Building, penning painfully adolescent verses in the style of Kenneth Slessor or William Blake, fills me with a kind of cringe-worthy fakestalgia. The truth is, twenty years ago, when Southerly turned fifty, I’m pretty sure I never even heard about it. The magazine itself was just a concept to us – something that got produced at some upper echelon of the University, and which we were made to understand quite obliquely that we would have to wait a good twenty years to ‘get into’.
But all of this is just self-preening in the end. Today, on International Women’s Day, rather than just congratulating myself on all of my own publications, I’d like to salute the editors who made all of the above possible – all of whom just happen to be women.
Therefore, in the spirit of Oscars (TM) acceptance speeches, first of all, I’d like to thank Robin Deed of the Victorian Writers centre, who invited me to write an article for their newsletter. Thanks also to Rebecca Olive from the Kurungabaa editors’ collective for accepting my poems for publication in that journal. Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing is edited by Karen Andrews and I’m grateful to her for her patient responses to my queries. The guest poetry editor for Cordite’s Zombie 2.0 issue is Ivy Alvarez, a fantastic poet and blogger, who also put me onto Kurungabaa in the first place via the excellent Dumbfoundry (RSS). Finally, props to Kate Lilley, Southerly‘s poetry editor, who first introduced me to contemporary American poetry in a course she taught at the University of Sydney in the early 1990s.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Cordite Poetry Review is now back online!
The good news is that I’ve now narrowed down over 700 pages of submissions for Cordite 28: Secret Cities to just 50. The process was both fun and exhausting, although there’s a couple of pieces in there that (if I were the writer) I’d really want to change, or edit, or adjust.
I’m hesitant about making that jump from anonymous submissions process to one of active intervention and encouragement. Then again, the last time I edited an issue of Cordite (2005’s Editorial Intervention issue) I did in fact approach several contributors with suggested amendments or queries about their poems. Their responses were overall encouraging.
This kind of intervention makes an issue stronger and also confirms for the poets involved that their work has been read more than once, by someone who actually cares. Then again, with hundreds of other submissions that could also benefit from editing, and which don’t even make the shortlist, such an approach might also be labelled unfair.
In the end, I don’t think the volume of submissions itself is a problem for us – we’re thrilled that we receive work from so many people. The problems seem to be lying in the kinds of systems we set up in order to receive these submissions more efficiently. Email submissions, with multiple file attachment types, is just not working.
I’ve been experimenting with several online submission plug-ins, and hope to have some kind of trial online submission system (for eventual use in Cordite) up either here or on the Cordite site, in time for submissions to our 29th issue, the theme of which remains a secret, just like the contents of its predecessor, Secret Cities (due online in July).
The bad news is that first my web hosting provider’s servers and then the upstream provider for both the daveydreamnation.com and cordite.org.au domains have suffered a series of brown-outs, jitches, mind-warps and hernias over the past week, leaving my poor little websites quivering and twitching on the ground.
We hope to restore normal access soon. In the meantime,
Feng Haag Shuiling,