Monthly Archives: December 2015

In cities high the careful crowds. Of woe-worn mortals darkling go.

In cities high the careful crowds. Of woe-worn mortals darkling go.

Paradiso’s image of the sleeping woman reminded me of the old debate.
I thought the caption might be: It’s early, the bench is deserted

Here in the country our murals have a very different texture (to capture the light) and feel (with Aboriginal influences):

Guy Crosley with the Scotts Head community, NSW.

Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods,

Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and orchards

Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields where the Ninth-month bees hum;

Give me faces and streets — give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!    Walt Whitman


In his poem ‘Walden’, Emerson wrote, “In cities high the careful crowds. Of woe-worn mortals darkling go . . .” In Australia, the city vs county debate was expressed through poetry in the pages of the Bulletin through the rivalry between two of Australia’s most famous writers, Banjo Paterson and Henry Lawson. The poetic debate began with an anonymous poem, ‘The Voice from the Bush’ which had appeared in the literary pages of The Bulletin twenty years earlier. Paterson began with a poem in ballad form sentimentalising ‘the broken down man from the bush’ (from ‘A Voice from the Town’, Oct 1891). Lawson replied that the bush is, ‘land where gaunt and haggard women live alone and work like men’ (‘Up the Country’, July 1892); Paterson riposted with a poem asking if Lawson if the people he met their faces as sad as those in the city with ‘fallen women’ (‘Defence of the Bush’, July 1892).

Lawson then made a personal attack on Paterson, accusing the solicitor (who was also a journalist, jockey, soldier and farmer) of hypocrisy, living comfortably in Sydney (‘The City Bushmen’). Paterson had the last word ‘he feels his flabby muscles with a feeling of regret’, the bushie is healthier psychically and physically (‘An Answer to Various Bards’, Oct 1892). Rural Australia is now suffering from dwindling economies in the small towns. Raymond Williams debunked Rousseau’s  notion of  rural life as simple, good, natural and undertakes  literary revaluations, for example of the pastoral.  Poverty, youth suicide and the young leaving for the coastal cities are making rural life hard and socially unsustainable.

Now more than half the population in the last few years have migrated to live in cities, the planet has changed yet again, as big a change as agriculture. The writing is on the wall for healthy ecosystems and rich biodiversity, and while humans become more deracinated from where food and water comes from, let alone electricity and mobile phones, the real cost of how we live  our rich and entertaining lives (whether city or bush dwellers) is lost.

It’s early, the beach is deserted, I feel intimate with living.

It’s early, the beach
is deserted, I feel intimate with living.

Christmas Morning

for Wyn

Xmas dawn Paperbark swamp_WB

I have forgotten his birthday, the noise of frogs

in the paperbark swamp is a carnal prayer,

this time the percussion is Striped Marsh Frogs

Xmas dawn Paperbark swamp_frogspawn 

and I presume the spawn scattered around

the trees belong to them. It’s early, the beach

is deserted, I feel intimate with living.

 Xmas dawn Paperbark swamp_track Xmas morning Boatshed Beach

You show me the crab, stone dead or alive,

eyes missing. I kneel down before animal

to make a formal portrait of the mystery.

 Xmas Day crab and fig







Happy Holidays from Chicago

Happy Holidays from Chicago

Dust dancing in the light

Dust dancing in the light


Project 366 is a poem-centric collaboration of artists and writers taking place daily throughout 2016. And why? Because poetry is a process, art is a process. Poetry and art happen because we do it, because we make the effort to make it. So the object of this project is not to create finished art objects on a daily basis; it’s to get work on the way every day. Project 366 is to encourage the everyday business of artmaking for those who work – however they work – with word and image. Some people will post only pictures, some people will post only poems or short prose pieces. Some people will alternate among the various forms of their practice. And some may evolve new practices over the course of the year.

There are no set topics or themes for the project but participants add a short draft work daily so that the possibility is always there for response and for a conversation in the work. The project will be blogged daily at  and will appear on the wonderbook as well and be republished to other social media, for instance facebook.

Project participants have their own blog keys and make their own posts each day. English is the language-in-common of the project and translation of other-than-English works will likewise happen on a daily basis, so authors working from languages other than English will need to draft rough translations of their work each day too. There will be a secondary discourse around the project on its facebook page at

If you have any questions about the project or how it will work for you, please e-mail or fb message Kit Kelen (

To get things started, here’s some encouragement in the form of a challenge in the form of a poem from Norwegian poet, Olav Hauge:


I will write a poem a day.

every day.

That should be quite easy.

Browning managed it, although

he rhymed and

beat time

with bushy eyebrows.

So, one poem a day.

Something strikes you,

something happens,

something stands out.

– I get up. It’s getting light.

I have good intentions.

And see the bullfinch rising from the cherry tree,

stealing my buds.

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