Sunday, July 06, 2014

Art, industry, architecture & pets

The New River Gorge Bridge
My poem Art, industry, architecture & pets has been published on the website for zine series Today, the voice you speak with may not be your own. The poem is a response to issue 2 of the series, the Architecture issue.

Today, the voice you speak with may not be your own is run by Pascalle Burton. You can purchase the Architecture issue, as well as other issues online.

This is how Pascalle describes the publications, ‘The zine series…. Includes poetry and art consisting of the words, images and concepts of others – think found poetry, collage and Oulipo inspired pieces.”

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Visiting the Joan Miró Foundation

Joan Miró’s Paysage (Landscape) is my favourite artwork in the National Gallery of Australia.
This painting has always linked to my childhood experience of watching Italian animation series La Linea (The Line) on television.
The show seemed to appear randomly, I never thought to seek it out through the television guide.

I don’t think the La Linea and Miró’s works are artistically similar, rather it is the concept of creation from a simple line that has my mind automatically link the two. In the animation I had the illusion of an instant imaginative creation, and when I first saw Paysage in the NGA with its long lines it made my imagination work. I think for me the connection between the two is this creation from simple lines, La Linea is a demonstration and Paysage goes further by making the imagination work.

Visiting the Joan Miró Foundation was a big deal to me in July of 2013. I had no concept of the artist past the art. During that first visit I spent most of my time in the temporary exhibition Joan Miró. Printmaking. That time spent provided a depth of insight into Miró’s creative process. The exhibition followed his engagement with printmaking, particularly during the years spent in France as the Spanish Civil War was fought and lost. His artwork during this period dealt with his outlook on the conflict. From what I remember and the notes I took, much of the work exhibited constituted sketches or black line paintings and lithographs. Some of the work that appealed most to me were these black line works.
La Juene Fille (The Young Girl)
This year, after managing to finally visit the second floor and walk through the entire Foundation, I feel like some of the most interesting and exciting works that push my imagination into high gear were in that temporary exhibition.

A poem, The Sun Eater, Catalonia, 17 July 1936 to 17 July 2013, Miró and Picasso, which is forthcoming in The Grapple Annual is my response to that first visit and my visit to the Picasso Museum during the same week in Barcelona in July 2013. The poem was started while walking through the temporary exhibition last year and finally finished just after this second visit to the Foundation.
Painting (The White Glove)
In the Foundation Miró is quoted as stating that his artwork is a starting point for the imagination.

I am in Paris now, I took the TGV fast train from Barcelona to Paris. I fell asleep watching sunny dry Catalan countryside zoom past to the sounds of the Transistor soundtrack. I woke up to the sounds of Lume as I passed small French towns as well as farms that alternated white cows with fields of orange sunflowers.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Into the autonomous community of Madrid

“If you give meaning to certain things in my paintings it may be very true, but it is not my intention to give this meaning. What ideas and conclusions you have got I obtained too, but instinctively, unconsciously. I make the painting for the painting. I paint the objects for what they are.” – Pablo Picasso

I went to Madrid for four days last week. Most of that time was spent in the Prado museum and the Reina Sofía museum with Amanda.

I sent a few postcards after the visit. One of the Sunken dog (Perro Semihundido) and one of The Execution of Torrijos and his companions at Málaga Beach (El fusilamiento de Torrijos y sus compañeros en la playa de Málaga). Those are two of my three favourite paintings. The third is Guernica and I didn’t feel like sending a postcard of that one.

Sunken Dog was painted by Goya onto the wall of his house and is considered as never meant for exhibition. The execution on the beach is a representation of killing by an absolute ruler of people fighting for some form of liberty in Spain.

A big part of returning to Madrid for me was being able to revisit the painting Guernica in the Reina Sofia and to finally make it to the second floor of the Prado to explore the artwork there.

I was reading something on the Spanish Civil War generating a large corps of partisan news reporters who soon after arriving to report on the conflict sided with the Second Spanish Republic in an ultimately doomed fight for liberty. Some quit their jobs with right-wing papers to enter the war. I think my interest in the three artworks above is tied to the failure of that fight and the ongoing failure of the left in Australia and globally. I could try and unpack that here but won’t, I write poetry to do that.

This week Pascalle Burton published the third issue of her zine, Today, the Voice you speak with may not be your own. It has a poem that I started after my last visit to Spain and finished while on this residency. This issue has the theme ‘Film’.
Image by Pascalle Burton
The last week has been focussed on a restructure of the manuscript, which is going at a slow pace, putting together two fifteen minute performances, and writing my first ever grant application.

We have an Open Studio here in Can Serrat on 28 June, I plan to use one of the performances I am developing for that event.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Open Studio in El Bruc

I am part of an open studio at the Can Serrat International Art Centre here in El Bruc, Catalunya, on 28 June.
Open Studio - Can Serrat
There will be exhibitions of art from several of the other current residents, including Ariel Grout.
From a 2012 Open Studio by Ariel Grout
Readings from three other writers, including India’s Vikram Kapur  and West Australian Helen Hagemann

Read Vikram's When the White Man Came for Chai on his website (first published in Ambit Magazine, Issue 204, UK, April 2011).

Amanda Coghlan will have an installation of nine images focussed on the campaign for Catalunya's independence and the preservation of El Bruc.

I'll be performing a combination of poems from my developing manuscript for all the veronicas (the dog who staid) and That Place of Infested Roads (life during wartime) published by the Knives Forks and Spoons Press.

Monday, June 16, 2014




If you are going, “What’s this poetry slam thing?” Well you’re reading the right facebook invitation.

BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! is two minutes of your original material with no props or music on the stage for an audience for 1st prizes.

Yes, we want your words, and Yes, many first prizes.

“HOW ARE THE FIRST PRIZES DECIDED?” BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! can see your thought bubble. The prizes are decided by numerous methods including judges who score poems, randomness (possibly Fate for those who don’t believe in human agency), arbitrary judgment by The Master of Conflict (or good taste if you believe in that), and possibly others → turn up → find out → perform your words, we’ll take anything.

Because we want your words on stage, in the audience, at the bar, in the bathroom, all yelling, all arms, all legs and all unshaved or shaved (it’s your choice!). So escape from that mysterious scientific base where we hear the distant explosions. Because this is BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! goes to the Civic Pub.

Feature acts to be announced!

Really, two minutes, your words, no props no music, for prizes, join BAD!SLAM!NO!BISCUIT! at the Civic Pub, sign-up from 7:30pm, poetry slam at 8:00pm.

Have you got any questions?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Timbaler of El Bruc

About a week has passed in Catalunya, I’ve been up Montserrat Mountain to the abbey and experienced an El Bruc festival.

The abbey is Benedictine and a major pilgrimage and tourism destination to visit a Black Madonna. It is an experience to look out over a congregation gazing up at the statue. People crying, people chatting, people shushing, people checking their phones.

I’ve sent a postcard off with some of the feeling of the monastery written onto it. The abbey has a museum holding artifacts from the Middle East, as well as artwork by Salvador Dalí. The work they have by Joan Miró is travelling as part of a touring collection of the 100 best works from the abbey museum.

This weekend was the Drummer Festival celebrating the legend of the French army fleeing from El Bruc due to a local drummer boy who made the French think a huge Catalunyan army was descending upon them.
The festival opened on Saturday evening with drumming teams in a grand procession down the main street, the locals in orange were chaotic and led by a drummer with a red mohawk. Three teams visiting from nearby towns also took part, they were purple, yellow and blue.
I was asked where my vote went, it went to blue. They were having the most fun with their small team. I don’t know if there was a winner, I hope so.

Sunday had the French army invading the town. There was an evil French general who had excellent crazy eyes.
And who ordered his soldiers to steal the daughters and wives of El Bruc and threaten them with execution.
And then threaten their fathers and husbands with execution, he then pretended to let them go, and then he had them shot.
A blind drunk raised the town to fight. He talked and talked and drank and drank and kept smacking his drummer boy guide on the back of the head.

There was the firing of blunderbusses and muskets into the air, pork crackling and pig face was eaten, and tea and sweets from Morocco were given away.

To close the day Catalunyan irregulars attacked the French camp on the edge of town. Pitchfork and reaper armed militia came down a large cliff on ropes while drummers and blunderbuss armed troops came up from a creek. They seized a French canon, then battled the retreating French into the centre of the old town. The air was full of smoke and rolling barrels and flung sandbags. There was fake blood. And to the crash of blunderbuss and with the smell of sulphur the last French soldier was pitchforked to death where the earlier executions had occurred.

Sunday is a recreation of events on 6 and 14 June 1808. On both days much smaller forces from Catalunya defeated the invading French military.

During this week gone I’ve managed to finish one poem, and with Amanda’s help, give the manuscript a restructure and edit.
This Tuesday I’m headed to Barcelona to visit The Joan Miró Foundation and the Museum of History of Catalunya.

I’m still listening to the Transistor soundtrack, but mixing it up with the music of FTL, Pitiri 1977 and Samorost 2.

All the photographs are by Amanda Coghlan, except the one of a postcard.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Canberra to El Bruc

I am in Catalunya, just north of Barcelona, in a town called El Bruc. I am staying a month for a residency.

I’ve set some objectives for the time here, structuring and editing a new poetry manuscript, identifying poems to form into a performance, putting together a new poem for the Queensland Poetry Festival, and developing performances for that and the Red Dirt Poetry Festival in Alice Springs. I have a few other things to pursue but they overlap with these.

During the flights and stop-overs to Barcelona I started collecting images from different newspapers I managed to grab in airport lounges. My favourite three are from the International New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.

I'll also be writing postcards while I am in Spain. My first is to my mum.

El Bruc is that stretched town below the mountain. I am looking forward to going up that mountain. 

For the trip I bought the game Transistor so I could listen to Darren Korb's new soundtrack.

l still enjoy listening to his soundtrack for Bastion, I think this new music is also excellent.

The building I am in is an old winery with plenty of space and there are only nine other people here.