Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Six years ago

This Easter marks six years since God did the impossible and changed me from a God-hating person to one standing in awe of his grace and love. No small feat, I can tell you.

It's been a massive six years, and in many ways it feels like life only began six years ago - that is true enough.

At around the same time in 2004 I picked up a little record with a Swan sketched on the front. It was Sufjan Stevens' Seven Swans album.

It sort of became the soundtrack to life at that time - reflecting on the ambivalence of faith, the certainty of God and the challenge before me to follow him.

One of the most poignant songs on the record for me is To Be Alone With You. These are the words. My reading of it is, it's Sufjan speaking personally to Jesus, who "went up on a tree" for him. The last line I think is referring to the disappointing relationships we have in life, that are mere shadows of the true and perfect relationship on offer with God.

I'd swim across Lake Michigan
I'd sell my shoes

I'd give my body to be back again
in the rest of room.
To be alone with you.

You gave your body to the lonely
They took your clothes.
You gave up a wife and family
You gave your ghost
To be alone with me
To be alone with me -
You went up on a tree.
I've never met a man who loved me.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

New single from Cloud Control

I feel like I haven't heard any good local music since The Middle East. Admittedly, it could be because my ears aren't as attuned as they once were... but I don't know.

Anyway, the good news is this track by Cloud Control really stood out to me when I heard it on FBI today.

It's the new single off their new album. I like it. Can't wait to hear the rest of their full-length release.

Wire creator's new show

The creator of The Wire is working on a new drama for HBO, called "Treme" (prounounced Trigh-MAY), set in New Orleans, post-Katrina. It sounds pretty interesting.

There's an article in the NY Times about it here.

Here's a snippet:
The story lines in “Treme” begin three months after Katrina, and they follow a diverse group of characters as they rebuild their lives in a city torn apart, a city in which tens of thousands of houses are abandoned, in which only 50 percent of the population remains, in which neighborhoods are still without power. The main characters in “Treme” aren’t the overburdened cops, spiraling addicts, ruthless dealers, struggling dockworkers, corrupt politicians or compromised journalists of “The Wire.” In their place, for the most part, are musicians, as the show’s title sneakily suggests: “Treme” is the New Orleans neighborhood where jazz was born. And even though it adjoins the French Quarter, few tourists visit Treme, where generations of the city’s musicians have lived.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stooping to Drink

photo: t knouff

In class tonight, I have to present a poem of my own and one from the reader. I chose a poem by David Malouf called Stooping to Drink. I love it so much I thought I'd share it with you. I particularly love the last 7 lines. It makes me want to drive straight out of Sydney and find a dam...

Stooping to Drink

Smelling the sweet grass
of distant hills, too steep
to climb, too far to see
in this handful of water
scooped from the river dam.

Touching the sky where like
a single wing my hand
dips through clouds. Tasting
the shadow of basket-willows,
the colour of ferns.

A perch, spoon-coloured, climbs
where the moon sank, trailing
bubbles of white,
and school kids on picnics
swing from a rope - head

over sunlit heels like angels 
they plunge into the sun
at midday, into silence
of pinewoods hanging over
a sunken hill-farm.

Taking all this in
at the lips, holding it
in the cup of the hand.
And further down the hiss
of volcanoes, rockfall

and hot metals cooling
in blueblack depths a hundred
centuries back.
Taking all this in
as the water takes it: sky

sunlight, sweet grass-flavours
and the long-held breath
of children - a landscape
mirrored, held a moment,
and let go again.

Monday, March 22, 2010


Just writing up a story on the Government's new "MyZone", "MyMulti" and "MyBus Travel Tens" has reminded me how ubiquitous this whole MY ____ thing is.

It all began with myspace, I suppose.

Why does everything have to revolve around me anyway? Why can't I just buy an innerwest zone ticket?

I think i heard not long ago, someone in the US had started something called MyChurch, which just seems completely wrong given the whole point is to lift our gaze to God and away from ourselves.

Of course, it goes without saying...  i-things are in an altogether different category. That category being "fine" because Steve Jobbs says so.

And yeah, it's probably a bit rich writing critically about self-absorbtion on a blog, but why let hypocrisy get in the way of a good rant?

hunted down

So a certain former prime minister (who governed in the early 1990s) sent me/the radio station an email complaining about a story I did...

Seriously, who has the time to write 300 word emails of complaint to a radio station? Not usually former-Prime Ministers.

I finally got to the point of being able to print the thing out tonight, without feeling ill at the sight of it. Now i'm able to look at it comically, it's going straight to the pool room...

I particularly enjoyed these gems:
It's like Bill Clinton saying that he didn't realise the the words Monica Lewinsky meant Monica H. Lewinsky (or whatever her middle initial is).

Shame shame shame.

recent happenings at jubilee park and coogee

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

speaking of serendipity...

One of the coolest podcasts I've listened to is Simon Winchester speaking on serendipity in a lecture called: The Unanticipated Pleasures of the Writing Life.

I found it through itunes and downloaded it free. You should check it out. He is an amazing storyteller and his life has taken so many fascinating turns.

a perfect match

This seems too serendipitous to be true. But anyhow...

I just read in the Express Media newsletter, that the Australian Poetry Centre are seeking a team of enthusiastic poets/writers/ radio broadcasters/producers (under the age of 25) to host and produce a poetry/literature-based radio program.

They're calling for expressions of interest for the program which starts in April.

Umm.. wow? Can't help but feel like this one of those amazing moments in life where things just come together in a way you can't explain and good things happen.

So I've thrown my hat in the ring. We'll see how it goes...

Sadly, I think the centre is in Melbourne. Why is everything good in Melbourne!? Ok not everything, but you know.

starting with sentences

I have a tiny bit of homework for my poetry workshop each week (beyond simply writing poems in general), which focuses on a different aspect of the writing process.

This week's homework is about creating images, or to repeat the old adage, show don't tell.

We're to turn statements that tell you how someone is feeling, into descriptions that convey the emotion.

The exercise gets you to imagine a scene and create it from within. It's good fun and a great way to learn how to write.

Eg, here's one of my responses.

1. That summer on holiday he missed his mother.

So far from home at supper time, all he could think of were her hands, gripping a wooden spoon and stirring the afternoon light around a bright red bowl.

What's struck me is how helpful and useful these tasks are. This kind of simple exercise should be done in schools. Why is it kids are forced to analyse other people's writing, and told to write essays and stories, without breaking writing down to the level of the simple sentence?

This kind of short exercise really helps you understand the power of words, and reveals how writing is really just about writing beautiful sentences, and stringing them together.

*yes i'm doing my uni work, at work... slow nights can be good for something!

Able and Game stickers!

My favourite card shop, Able and Game (based in melbourne, but stocked at Art on King and online) have brought out stickers! This is so cute. This is their "boy pack".

steeped in new thoughts

After my first-week freak out, I'm actually starting to really dig uni.

One of my favourite moments in the week is walking out of class on Monday evening as the sun is setting  - casting an orange glow on everything, and I walk home with a head full of fresh new insights into not just a book or a movie, but how to think about things, the way institutions operate and the crafting of truth.

I love that walk home in that light with those thoughts.

Weirdly though, some random dude from class pulled up alongside me during this meditative walk to ask if I wanted a lift, and I didn't even see him I was so deep in thought. He almost drove off, when I realised he was waving at me! oops...

Sunday, March 14, 2010

the Sehnsucht we're all talking about

If you missed the discussion about poetry and eschatology on the post below, you should go check out the comments section, where a friend of a friend (thanks Jed!) has pointed me towards a great many awesome things.

Anyway, one of them was a quote from Emily Dickinson. And I thought I'd post the entire poem here, because it's beautiful, and apt.

Longing is like the Seed
That wrestles in the Ground,
Believing if it intercede
It shall at length be found.

The Hour, and the Clime -
Each circumstance unknown,
What Constancy must be achieved
Before it see the Sun!

c 1873.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

marrickville the new paddington?

James and I were there on Thursday, having coffee at the painfully hip cafe mentioned in the article (and pictured)... uhh yeah we are "white people" to a tee.

As we walked down Addison Road to the park, we were saying how house prices in the area were on the rise, and nice shops are sprouting up between the old ones... and soon it'll be a mini King Street.

But paddington? No. never. Not this side of town. Surely??!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

eschatology and poetry

I want to do some research into the eschatological nature of poetry. In other words, the way that poetry is an expression of "the last things", of a longing for the eternal.

I'm just not sure where to start. I first started thinking about this after hearing Trevor Hart's New College Lectures on God and the artist. But I haven't really found much else on the subject.

Any ideas?

I'm thinking CS Lewis might have something to say on the matter, and Tolkein and Sayers (all referenced in Trevor's lecture), but what specifically should I look for, and what about more recent contributions on the subject?

Alain de botton said this on twitter not long ago: "For those frustrated that art cannot do more: art is a suggestion, not an order, whispers rather than commands. I am the frustrated one."

That pretty much sums it up. I just want to think about it a bit more. So if you have any leads, please let me know.

when architecture speaks


This poem is very fresh and just a draft. It's also not based in reality (at least not mine). I'm also not convinced by its ending, but nevertheless...


all night our tent
is hidden under
moon's last gasp

the river here
doesn't move
but glows, a low
royal glow
a compass point for all time
it matches your lips -
still and unkind, unmoved
by the smallest
of things

a fallen branch, water
boiling bright, the first
signs of a blister on
your heel, a toad's
false croak

silence parts the trees above
and the hands beside bodies
that lie in jest against each other

tomorrow we'll
tackle mountains
the next we'll drive
toward a confederacy of lights
the city strung out
before us our voices
unchanged our fears

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

life lessons: march

photo: clspeace

*Fresh herbs make everything taste better. I'm looking at you continental parsley.

*When melancholy comes like death at the door, sometimes all it takes to feel better is to step outside and walk

*The seed has to plummet and die before it germinates

*The best thing to do when caught in the rain is to slow down and get drenched

*Hospitals smell strange, but once you get over that, they're transformative

What's a lesson you're learning this month?

Halfway to 52

The beautiful blog 52 Suburbs has made it to week 26 - celebrating with a visit to Campbelltown. What a feat. I'm in awe... especially after our humble little Camera Day Out on Saturday.

Monday, March 8, 2010

moving pictures

So what are we thinking about the Last Station, the latest literary biopic, based on the life of Tolstoy?

I'm interested, but not dying to see it like I was Bright Star. I haven't read any Tolstoy - on the list, yes, but not right now.

It looks a bit hollywood, but having said that, I don't mind a good dose of James McAvoy and Helen Mirren...

Also the French film festival is happening this week.. so if you're not working (unlike someone I know), you should go.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Revolver cafe: Annandale

These were taken using my iphone and a new app I've downloaded called Hipstamatic

Thursday, March 4, 2010

the most awesome thing I've seen all week

What a joyous moment.

A little concert by Adam Arcuragi in the middle of a flea market.

Watch the people's reactions!

This should happen more often.

...To hear more of this guy's stuff go to his website, his albums stream non-stop. Beautiful.

shift work

There's a system shutdown/upgrade going on at the moment, which is handy when you're supposed to be working... so I just wrote this instead, inspired by where I'd like to be.

shift work

it's morning
in the southern hemisphere
when she collapses
into bed timed out like
an egg on the boil

she'll stir in four hours to squint
at light pricking
through blinds pure
and precise, her mind turning to things
it normally avoids: wars and
the origin of species, how
pythagoras' theory really works
and just what is the leviathan?

then she'll flip onto her stomach
head turned away from the world,
mind casting shadows
that dance for a time
and sleep

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

in these arms

Ali posted this on her blog, but I liked it so much I had to share it.

The delightful Glen Hansard, being his scruffy self.

In These Arms from banjo bandstand on Vimeo.

embracing uncertainty

I've been thinking a lot lately about the place of uncertainty in life. I think my personality rails against it, except where ambiguity in language is concerned.

I love the ambiguous nature of poetry, and like Keats' idea of "negative capability" - that a good writer must be comfortable in a state of uncertainty, even seeking it for the purpose of tapping into the unconscious imagination.
That is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason. - Keats
But in all other contexts, it really goes against my instincts. I like things stitched up, organised and expectations clear.

This means I have a habit of speaking when sometimes silence is required, or acting when patient endurance would be better.

I want to be more at ease with uncertainty, or to put it in the positive, I'm after contentment with the inbetween, unclear times.

I feel like while from the outside my life might seem pretty organised at present, from the inside it feels quite uncertain - I'm starting new projects, adjusting to new family dynamics, and inhabiting new roles and responsibilities in various places. It makes me uneasy, and sometimes it simply overwhelms me (especially at 2am in the morning).

So here is my current manifesto: to embrace the uncertain. You can pray for me in this.

Ps. This has reminded me of the Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway. Fishing - now there's a sport for the waiter in all of us. Maybe I need to go fishing and embrace the wait.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dear Autumn: An open letter

Dear Autumn,
Let's be honest: I think you're tops. You know, the decreasing heat and humidity, the gentle breezes and changing leaves. It's all good stuff.

Maybe we can hang out some time, like old times?


And for you, dear reader - What's your favourite Autumn destination? I fancy Orange in the autumn. Mount Wilson is also up there on the list. Actually, anywhere out of Sydney.


I went to visit dad again today - he seemed the happiest I've seen him in the last week. He was sitting in a chair too, which is quite a feat after knee surgery and a torn hamstring.

I think he's feeling heaps better and is looking forward to getting home. We're not sure when that will happen, but hopefully sometime in the next week.

it's all about how you say it

a list of words and phrases you may witness coming out of my mouth after being trained to speak good by the profs at sydney uni:

imaginative prose discourse
a song of a book
working in two traditions
modernist masterpiece
europe as a moral cesspit
edenic new world
partriarchal theocracy
foundations of transcendentalism
history of dissent
what's the leviathan?
meditation on modern democracy
country of the mind
elements of utopia
rhetoric of chosenness

ahhh yes. Academia. How I have missed thee.