Humility Publishing

so far i’m my only reader but i like what i see
writing becomes much easier when you can
focus on present company though it be poor

Prater, D., ‘Humility Publishing, Shampoo, 2002

When I began researching the field of self-publishing in Australian poetry in 2005, I envisaged a grand, sociological study in the style of Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction (1984), punctuated with graphs and tables, statistical analysis and interview data, an extensive bibliography of self-published books by Australian poets, and more. In hindsight, it is easy to scorn my own youthful optimism that an entire ‘field’ of self-publishing could thus be summarised in one vast yet mature and restrained tract of epic academic vigour, which I might then go on to self-publish, or even to disguise the extent of my own involvement in.

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Cordite 32: Zombie 2.0 (2010)

I’m suitably gored-out to announce that Cordite’s latest issue, Zombie 2.0, is now undead, and can be accessed here:

or here.

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

Managing Editor,

Cordite Poetry Review

VWC, Kurungabaa, Southerly (IWD)

Things have been pretty quiet in the Dreamnation of late, thanks mostly to my new life as a web editor and writer for NIMD, a political organisation in Den Haag (The Hague). Nevertheless, my old life as an Australian writer continues to come back to haunt me in the form of Zombie publications, both in print and online.

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!


Interviewing Ko Un


One of the highlights of my recent three month residency in Seoul was my meeting with poet Ko Un (above), considered one of Korea’s most famous and public poets. Having read many of his poems and autobiographical writings (and even written a poem for him) I was keen to make a connection with him and to further my understanding of Korean poetry and history.

I couldn’t have hoped for a better outcome.

We met on a windy autumn morning at a subway station close by Seoul National University, from whence we were whisked to the campus grounds courtesy of one of Ko Un’s graduate students. The meeting was facilitated by Professor An Sonjae of Sogang University, who had been my supervisor during my time as a teacher there in 2005.

An Sonjae (known in English as Brother Anthony) is a translator and academic a lot about modern Korea, having lived there for almost thirty years. I had in fact interviewed him several weeks earlier – you can read the transcript of that meeting on the Cordite site.

Our meeting/interview with Ko Un lasted for just over an hour, during which time I had the chance to ask him many questions about his life, his poetics and his personal philosophy. One quote that sticks out from the interview is the following, on the subject of the ‘Zero’:

At that time it was just after the Korean war, everything was destroyed. I was a survivor surrounded by ruins and emptiness, and an orphan. So therefore it’s not just my poetry or myself personally or something, it’s that the whole world seemed to be nothing but zero, a mound of ash. So my poetry begins in the midst of this zero, and me being this naked survivor, so to speak. And when you come to the present time, I can’t tell with this zero whether I’ve moved in a plus or a minus direction but in the present too it’s always a matter of starting again, starting again from a zero, again from nothing, to always start again from that, as it were, ground zero …

Read the full interview with Ko Un on the Cordite site.

Good news and bad

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 and 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,