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Monday, March 02, 2015

William Blake: Wonderful and Strange

Jenny Uglow read it all HERE
Tate, London
William Blake: Nebuchadnezzar, 1795
Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum has always been a place of surprises, despite its severe fa├žade. Perhaps this has to do with its history, the coming together of two seventeenth-century institutions, the University Art Collection, stuffed with portraits of bewigged dons, and the sprawling cabinet of curiosities amassed by Elias Ashmole. The latter was based on the collection gathered by the Tradescants, father and son, famed gardeners and plant collectors, who put it on show at their Lambeth home as “Tradescant’s Ark,” allowing the ribs of a whale to share space with the hand of a mermaid, poisoned arrows, and agate goblets. Since the Ashmolean’s stunning extension was completed in 2009, walking up the curving staircases and circling through the galleries and across glass walkways feels like wandering through the whorls of a shell, mother of pearl, glowing with treasures. All of which has made it an absolutely fitting place for “William Blake: Apprentice and Master,” an exhibition that is at once didactic and very strange.
Entering the exhibition, with its low light and dark walls, is like opening another secret cabinet, whose curiosities defy time. This show, however, which has irritated visitors as much as entranced them, is determined to place the “timeless” genius back in his day, explaining how the development of his idiosyncratic techniques both sprang from and challenged contemporary art education and practices. A friend had declared that the opening rooms were “rather bossy.” And it’s true that I could almost feel the curator, Michael Phillips, decreeing that I must go slowly and be prepared to read a lot of labels. His opening catalog line is just as severe: “Nothing can tell us more about a work of art than the discovery of how it was made.” Hmmm. There’s clearly no point wailing “But where’s Blake?”—where’s the revolutionary spirit, the color-washed poet, the genius and madman?
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
... Tumbling onward, here is the manuscript, heavily corrected, of the satire An Island in the Moon(1784-87), with the drafts of three songs that would soon be included, in a revised version, in Songs of Innocence, and a sheet showing his attempts at the mirror writing he would need for his illuminated books. These are just over the horizon, and one can’t help but gasp at the poems “Holy Thursday” and “Nurses Song,” springing to pale life, the etchings printed in brown leaf and haloed with watercolor, with the children in the “Nurses Song” dancing in a circle below:
When the voices of children are heard on the green
And laughing is heard on the hill
My heart is at rest within my breast
And everything else is still
Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford
William Blake: ‘Nurses Song’ from Songs of Innocence, 1789
Applied to Blake, the word “visionary” is a term of method as well as perception.

The Trustees of the British Museum
William Blake: Albion rose, also known as Glad Day or The Dance of Albion, 1794–1796
I have one lament. The exhibition is so brave in its focus on the technical that it’s a distraction to find a recreation of Blake’s tiny London studio in the wonderfully named Hercules Buildings. Is this intended to draw people in? It seems a blunder to place this empty, clean, National Trust-like reconstruction amid prints that imply color, clutter, and mess, piles of proofs, the smell of ink and glue and paint. True, we can see how strong the 5’4” Blake must have been to work the heavy oak press, but his art demanded a different kind of strength. His great prints leave the workshop world behind, their figures soaring and stretching and circling into the stratosphere of Blake’s ecstatic, terrible, fourfold vision. In his technique, in his genius unacknowledged in his time, and in his ambition and desire, contraries unite and matter and spirit meet.

“William Blake: Apprentice and Master,” is on view at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford 

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Book Keepers at Back to Back Galleries

Glorious insults - from a past era

These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.
A member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease." "That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."
"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."  Clarence Darrow
"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway).
"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Mark Weiss 'as luck would have it' Available Now

Mark Weiss - As Luck Would Have It
    Mark Weiss - As Luck Would Have It

    Paperback, 116pp, 9x6ins, £9.95 / $18
    978184861413-0 [Download a sample PDF from this book here.]
    "This is a barefoot poetry, almost in the very oldest Asian sense of that phrase, a poetry of voice & body that recognizes that even body-language has accents, which surely it does. The eye is keen, the humor self-deprecating. Mark Weiss has reached that point on life’s mesa where forgiveness (to oneself as well as others) may well be the most important of gestures. A book to make you glad to be in the world." —Ron Silliman


    On this episode of TNL [Thursday Night Live on ABC Jazz], we celebrate the life and music of the great Clark Terry, who passed away at the age of 94 on February 21, 2015.


    Thursday, March 5, 2015. 9:00pm - 10:00pm
    "Imitate, assimilate, innovate..." These three words were Clark Terry's way of summing up how to be yourself as an artist. Copy your idols, integrate their ideas and then make them your own by building upon them. CT was renowned not only for his work as a trumpeter, composer and sideman (for the likes of Duke Ellington, Count Baise and Oscar Peterson), but also as an educator and mentor to many younger jazz musicians.
    Even in his 90s, he was eager to encourage young jazz musicians in their own musical journeys. The Australian drummer and film director Al Hicks captured Terry's passion for the music in his documentary titled 'Keep On Keepin' On.' The film highlights CT's relationship with Justin Kauflin - a young, blind pianist breaking into the scene in America. It's definitely worth the watch, and you can check out the trailer here.
    So as the tributes flow for the late jazzman, we're airing a live concert, recorded 25 years ago at the Village Gate in 1990. Joining him in his quintet is Don Friedman on piano, Marcus McLauren on bass, Kenny Washington on drums and Jimmy Heath on saxophones. Paquito D'Rivera is also on the bill, sitting in as a guest on Terry's tune 'Silly Samba.'

    Tracks in this feature

    1. 'Top & Bottom'
    2. 'Keep, Keep, Keep on Keepin' On'
    3. 'Silly Samba'
    4. 'Pint of Bitters'
    5. 'Sheba'
    6. 'Brushes & Brass'
    7. 'Simple Waltz'
    8. 'Hey Mr. Mumbles'
    All compositions by Clark Terry

    In the band

    Clark Terry; trumpet, flugelhorn
    Jimmy Heath; tenor & soprano saxophone
    Don Friedman; piano
    Marcus McLauren; bass
    Kenny Washington; drums
    Paquito D'Rivera; alto saxopone (track 5)
    CD: Live at the Village Gate by Clark Terry (Chesky JD49)
    Image: Clark Terry's Website

    Thursday, February 26, 2015

    Poets Hub from writingWA

    2015 Ekphrasis Poetry Award
    This Award is open to poets residing anywhere in Australia. 
    Poems must be up to twelve lines and respond to one of twelve selected art works from the Nillumbik Shire Art Collection. 
    Open Section: $500 first prize; $300 second and $200 third; 
    Young Poets Section, for poets aged between 12 and 18 years: $150 prize. 
    Enter up to three poems; $11 entry fee per poem in Open Section; no fee for Young Poets Section. 
    Online entries close 5pm 30 March; hardcopy entries must be postmarked 30 March. For details and to view artworks, click here.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2015

    Meanjin Papers No.1

    MEANJIN quarterly's first issue in 1940. with a great motto on the back:

    Combine Pleasure and Patriotism

    Thanks to Writers Victoria for this info.

    The Story of Australia's People Volume 1: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia


    Price: $49.99
    The vast continent of Australia was settled in two main streams, far apart in time and origin. 
    The first came ashore some 50,000 years ago when the islands of Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea were one.  The second began to arrive from Europe at the end of the eighteenth century.  Each had to come to terms with the land they found, and each had to make sense of the other. 
    The long Aboriginal occupation of Australia witnessed spectacular changes.  The rising of the seas isolated the continent and preserved a nomadic way of life, while agriculture was revolutionising other parts of the world.  Over millennia, the Aboriginal people mastered the land's climates, seasons and resources. 
    Traditional Aboriginal life came under threat the moment Europeans crossed the world to plant a new society in an unknown land.  That land in turn rewarded, tricked, tantalised and often defeated the new arrivals.  The meeting of the two cultures is one of the most difficult and complex meetings in recorded history. 
    In this book Professor Geoffrey Blainey returns first to the subject of his celebrated works on Australian history, Triumph of the Nomads (1975) and A Land Half Won(1980), retelling the story of our history up until 1850 in light of the latest research.  He has changed his view about vital aspects of the Indigenous and early British history of this land, and looked at other aspects for the first time. 
    Compelling, groundbreaking and brilliantly readable, The Story of Australia's People: The Rise and Fall of Ancient Australia is the first instalment of an ambitious two-part work, and the culmination of the lifework of Australia's most prolific and wide-ranging historian.

    Buy at your indie bookstore or at

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015

    Jeri Kroll and Geoffrey Lehmann reading in Canberra

    Hello Poetry at The Gods in Canberra supporters 
    A reminder that the first reading this year will be on Tuesday March 10. It will feature Geoffrey Lehmann (Sydney) and Jeri Kroll (Adelaide). See details below. 
    Please come along and make it a great start to the year. Please note new start times i.e. dinner at 6 and readings at 7.30. If you'd like to join my tables up the front let me know or you may prefer to start your own table and book directly with The Gods on 6248 5538 or
    All the best 
    Geoff Page
    Geoffrey Lehmann's poetry was first published in The London Magazine when he was 18. His Poems 1957—2013 was published by UWAP last year.  He has also co-edited with Robert Gray three anthologies of Australian Poetry, including the massive Australian Poetry Since 1788.

    Jeri Kroll’s Workshopping the Heart: New and Selected Poems came out from Wakefield Press last year.. Her verse novel, Vanishing Point (Puncher & Wattmann), was staged at the George Washington University in 2014.  She is also a Professor of English and Creative Writing. 
      1. Map of The Gods Cafe And Bar
    1. The Gods Cafe And Bar
    2. Address: Anu Arts Centre, Anu, Acton ACT 0200


    Kit Kelen’s new collection, Scavenger’s Season (Puncher & Wattman, 131pp, $25), has its own bush ethereality, but it’s mainly tonal. The book describes his relationship, over 25 years or so, with his 2ha property on the NSW north coast and the surrounding landscape. There is a lightness to it all that reproduces the feeling of sun through trees, either experienced or seen in art.
    Kelen moves through the countryside like a relaxed urban flaneur embarked on a drive rather than someone determined to drink in meaning and significance from it all.
    He pays attention, and the sketching is sharp, but always under the watchful eye of an intellect that makes constructs of experience.
    The tone is set early on with the long poem Shed, (which won the Newcastle Poetry Prize local award in 2013).
    The shed is the ultimate rural assemblage — made up of all sorts of scraps, it is a place to work and ponder, and the bush is all around, and in and out of it all the time. There is almost no concept that can’t be worked into a shed metaphor, and Kelen gets to most of them:
    Why bother with the grid? / A blowfly drone’s annoying / but one day it will power the place. The thing just needs / some nutting out. So leave it on the bench. / The peasant / is the king here. Where monarchs tinker with old crowns / no need for revolution.
    Later in the book, with in my tin kingdom the shed seems to have diffused out into the landscape: “and a stretch / spring is such / with gums of their own volition / my kingdom / ‘tis of tin I sing”. In between these galvanised ruminations, Kelen’s experience of the land, the wildlife, of himself, is conveyed in short, rhythmic, rhetorical phrases, bucolic and ode-like, and Horace makes an appearance, in case we were in any doubt as to what is going on.
    Kelen’s engagement with the country is a wry one: he is amused by the fact that within his boundaries nothing much happens of any utility, and he engages with the land in an almost Berkeleyan fashion: it seems to exist only if he writes about it. He is self-consciously a bricoleur, making his life and art out of what he finds lying around, and makes the Australian bush appear far more charming than it has any right to.