Wednesday, April 20, 2011

It was great to see mention made of Sydney poet Michael Dransfield in the final episode of the brilliant mini-series on the birth of Cleo Magazine, Paper Giants. It was an admittedly brief cameo referencing the young genius' tragic demise at the ripe old age of 24, but it underlined what a poetic presence Dransfield was at the time. In light of this and the fact that we are around about the 38th anniversary of the poet's death (he died on Good Friday, 1973), I thought I would post a short poem he wrote when he was still in his teens.


You eat ships
you taste wrong
you isolate and desolate
you are not home to men;
yours is the
subtlest beauty

Michael Dransfield (1948-73)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Come in Spinner

  Despite concerns to the contrary, my comment regarding the inestimable Tug Dumbly being the first poet to bring down a government in this country has borne no more bitter fruit than my good friend referring to himself in a phone message last Friday evening as “Satan here”. Unlike a few of the more earnest and hidebound among us, poets the calibre of Tug understand that Mirth and Muse are two sides of the same coin. For both are symptoms of Fate.
  According to some, it is my fate to be the curmudgeon of Sydney letters. I do not take the responsibility lightly.
   It appears Tug Dumbly’s fate is to be Sydney literati's favourite raconteur while also blessed with two young mouths to feed. He chose to star in a tv advertisement endorsing the current  gambling regime. Flags were waved, beaches stormed, and the sonorous term un-Australian wafted forth over the subtle chink of schooner against tap and punter against Fate.

  Meanwhile, it is the fate of an alarming percentage of our fellow citizens to believe that they can stare down Fate. Their collective delusion has built cities in the Nevada desert and torn the heart out of some of our oldest communities. Whether you lay the blame at the “cargo cult” of the welfare state or the surplus-compulsion of capitalism, or simply pure laziness and greed, it would appear that the vast majority of Australians have had enough. Thus, despite my friend Tug Dumbly’s best efforts and a string of spurious and revealing arguments from the Clubs, the minority Federal government will not fall, at least not on this issue.
  Tip: arguing that it is only the revenue from problem gamblers that keeps alive funding for community groups is as big a Furphy as the burglar I once caught napping in my bed.
  In the meantime, good citizens, don’t hesitate to have a flutter on Two-up this Anzac Day. My father used to say it was the fairest game ever devised.