the priests and the witchdoctors both
will bless your new vehicle; the Virgin
will keep you in mind if you fashion a model
of what you want, attach it to the front of the car

                                                                     a second storey on your house
                                                                        a house pure and simple
                                                                          a swinging baby doll
                                                                        attached to your grille

‘The Virgin won’t give them anything’
shrugs Father Abraham: it’ll be hard work
gets the second storey or the first
good luck or bad that delivers or
                 witholds babies

                                                                 The medicine men pooh-pooh the minimal
                                                                 offices of the Friars - they themselves offer
                                                        in addition to the basic plan, prayers to the earth gods
                                                                                 thrilling rituals and holy smoke

the camera pans round a wall of wax engravings
for the attention of the Virgin of Copacabana

                  here, our gurus advise visualising
                  what we desire:
                                                                 a private welter of wants

                                                                                 I like the Bolivian way
                                                                     heart on your sleeve, swinging dice
                                                                           buffeting the rearvision mirror
                                                                   a decade of the rosary, a burnt offering
                                                                              hey! down here! we’ll take anything!
                                                                                          a shout-out to whoever’s online



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Back at Cranfield Street by 5
Motorway horridness receding into fumey oblivion
We are just in time for Pointless – words ending in ‘air’
‘debonair’ ? – others, phoned at random, knew that one

Two pounds fifty left on my Oyster card once I’ve put it through the barrier at
the delicate, high-slung, white and black, wooden pedestrian bridge over the
Brockley line
all along the route is densely wooded with lanky elder saplings
dock and nettles, layers of green petticoats below the asphalt belt

Wendy’s raspberries are flourishing in her damp back garden
I only notice the hundreds of orb spiders strung on webs between the bushes
when I come eye to eye with one as I bend to gather fruit

Brockley Market turns two on Saturday: I’ll be there.

travel the best excuse to scavenge: any find might be a clue
to the answer you’ve been seeking

I’ve picked up a copy of Worzel Gummidge
           ‘Do tell us how you came alive?’
           ‘... so far as I can mind, it all started with a itching in the head,
           when the turnip began to sprout.’

Three Oxford Children’s Modern Classic authors
ring bells, from the list inside Worzel’s cover
Rosemary Sutcliff, Philippa Pearce, Astrid Lindgren

I know the TV Gummidge, not the book
or its author, Barbara Euphan Todd
who ‘started writing when she was eight’, the little swot

the written story’s charm eludes me
a grim, mirthless tale of mud, muddle and mayhem

           Why do I love England? And yet I do.



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Fed Wendy’s cat, walked to Broadway
Market through London Fields

a month from now these will be
once again names to conjure with

jump on a 236
Newington Green
lured by the memory
of Belle Epoque patisserie
glowing golden in a corner

always misremembered

as Raisin D’Etre

My fellow-travellers clearly
locals despite farflung origins
even on my ninth visit
I’m a day-lily among annuals

When I’m seated at my table
the escargot pastry is perfect
the coffee not

c’est la vie


From Wendy’s bookshelf
I’ve taken Death of a Ghost
Margery Allingham
best-loved Dame of Crime

died a year younger
than my present age

so many books!
beneath an unflattering
photo, her Green Penguin blurb
‘In my family, it would have
seemed strange not to write’

yet I know no other Allingham


my internal satnav (not the Epoque
vendeuse’s doubtful directions) tells me

Church Street is nearby
Abney Park cemetery therefore
in walking distance, a favorite for

the unchecked frivolity
of its riot of nameless
creepers and saplings

gobbling tumbled memorials
rampaging madly on


my lately-penned Will specifies
eco-burial, probably in a polite park


better this rampant decay under
thrusting, immodest new growth
the Victorian way


en route to last things, I detour
via penultimate ones

a light-filled ex-factory
scuffed wooden floors
raised platform at the back
sparse, select items dangling at intervals
and in the wide window

a light-as-air linen swingcoat
faintest oyster blue-grey
made for a small man my size
not too many pounds asked,

enthuse with the attendant
who seems as charmed as I
by the garment, as perhaps she is
leave empty-handed


In the cemetery I peer through a screen of oak leaves
squint at the flat Yuri had, with Teresa the mad landlady
a few years back, overlooking this tangle of rubble
deepest green shade


the passage of years
sickeningly vertiginous
when it’s your childrens’ years
you’re reckoning, let alone
amongst tombstones


outside Epoque earlier,
two girl cyclists hugged goodbye

stalwart in Birkenstocks,
tortoise-shelled by Freitag backpacks
full of calm and poise
grounded as I wasn’t

I thought of my reading at their age
how I longed for each new
Drabble, bound to be bursting
with important

tips for living my modern life

all forgotten

Margaret is coming
to Writers Week, I’m reading
her new books, elderly heroes
all passion spent


Margery’s spectral tale from 1934,
in my backpack, is a painter’s story
Lafcardio, RA
Royal Academician

my ghosts today are clamorous
not unfriendly



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a tablescape

drooping roses near death in a jam jar
dull Ian Rankin in a yellow cover lying upside down
Mongolian phrasebook
sample tube of Sensodyne
Cinema ticket: The Great Beauty
opener for the Italian Film Festival
password to Smartygrants
for accessing two hundred applications
business card for Phnom Penh silver and gemstone jeweller
a blue and a black biro
invitation to popup arthouse fundraiser at Goodwood School
receipt for Geranium Leaf Aēsop cleanser
Yuri’s business card at the Apple Store
with the bitten silver apple on gloss white
white enamel teapot with red-rimmed lid
remote control for Smart TV
another Scottish crimemeister, Stuart McBride
Close to the Bone, his back to me
at the far end of the table
this pen

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Cath Kenneally 240Cath Kenneally is an Adelaide poet and novelist whose book Around Here (Wakefield Press, 2002) won the John Bray National Poetry Prize. Of her six volumes of poetry, the latest is eaten cold (Walleah Press, 2013), in which each poem responds to one in the volume Cold Snack (AUP) by Auckland poet Janet Charman. Kenneally’s two novels are Room Temperature and Jetty Road (both Wakefield Press). She works as a print and broadcast arts journalist, being Arts Producer at Radio Adelaide for many years and responsible for Writers Radio, an award-winning national community radio books and writing program. She was the inaugural CAL/J.M. Coetzee Writing Fellow at the Coetzee Centre at Adelaide University in 2016. She holds an MA and PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide. Her work has appeared in many national and international journals and anthologies, and been translated into several languages.


A Rich Full Life

Allingham at Abney Park

Island Time


Super Maria Brothers

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Tuesday, 28 February 2017 16:34

News from the Editor's Desk - March 2017

Porter Prize

We received almost 1,000 entries in this year’s Peter Porter Poetry Prize – by far our biggest field to date. Entries came from twenty-two countries. The judges – Ali Alizadeh, Jill Jones, Felicity Plunkett – have now shortlisted seven poems. The shortlisted poets are Ronald Dzerigian (USA), Louis Klee (Victoria), Anthony Lawrence (NSW), Damen O’Brien (Queensland), Michael Lee Phillips (USA), Jen Saunders (NSW), and Jessie Tu (NSW).

The winner (who will receive $5,000 plus an Arthur Boyd print) will be named at the Porter Prize ceremony on Thursday, 23 March (6 pm) at the Collected Works Bookshop in Melbourne (see below). First, though, a number of friends and admirers of Peter Porter will read some of his poems, and the shortlisted poets will read their poems. These are always great occasions for poetry (and Porter) aficionados, and everyone is welcome. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

More poetry gigs

To celebrate the second edition of States of Poetry (South Australia), state editor Peter Goldsworthy will introduce his new cohort of poets during Adelaide Writers’ Week. The six featured poets this year are Steve Brock, Cath Kenneally, Jules Leigh Koch, Louise Nicholas, Jan Owen, and Dominic Symes. The session will take place on 6 March at 5 pm, at the Pioneer Women’s Memorial Garden, Adelaide. For more information, visit the Adelaide Writers’ Week website.

Single poems from each writer appear in our mini-anthology.

The April issue will feature a mini-anthology of poems from the Tasmanian edition of States of Poetry. Peter Rose and state editor Sarah Day will host a reading from the six poets included in this year’s anthology: Adrienne Eberhard, Graeme Hetherington, Karen Knight, Louise Oxley, Tim Thorne, and Jane Williams. The event will take place at the Hobart Book Shop, 22 Salamanca Square at 5.30 pm on Thursday, 6 April. Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Trumping the media

‘Journalism is on the back foot,’ writes Diana Bagnall at the start of her review of an anthology of writings about the 1960s from The New Yorker. Sad to report, it’s an understatement, given recent developments. We all know the fate of countless journalists around the world in recent years: the arrests, the intimidation, the derision, the assassinations, especially in Russia (so close to Donald Trump’s commercial heart). In his first days as US president, Trump demeaned the office by pursuing his maniacal attacks on the media, beginning with a pathetic and fraudulent attempt to ‘correct’ attendance figures at his inauguration.

Donald Trump swearing in ceremony 550President Donald Trump being sworn in on 20 January 2017 (Wikimedia Commons)


So much was left to the thinking press during the recent ignoble election campaign: one thinks in particular of the New York Times’s exposé about Trump’s startling business incompetence and his record-breaking financial reliance on US taxpayers. Now it seems that the Times and every questioning journalist will pay a high price for their audacity. Trump, puffed up with amour-propre, resembles a drunk at a party who won’t brook any opposition or criticism. Now he – bizarre though it still seems – runs the United States. What price logic, perseverance, intelligent doubt? What future for investigative journalism? Will it be safe or even legal to practise or publish dissent?

And how, to paraphrase Diana Bagnall, did it come to this? The Obama administration, in some respects, paved the way. Barack Obama was no great friend of the fourth estate, despite his cosy relations with admiring editors such as David Remnick of The New Yorker. For some, Obama was the most controlling and secretive president since the paranoiac Richard Nixon. Menacing too. Time and time again reporters were stymied or threatened with prosecution. No other administration has denied so many Freedom of Information requests. Notoriously, the Obama regime threatened New York Times reporter James Risen with jail for his refusal to name a source. Risen has dubbed Obama ‘the greatest enemy of press freedom in a generation’.

Jerkish plot

Philip Roth 1973Philip Roth (Wikimedia Commons)In our previous issue, Advances wondered, with eerie retrospective prescience (to coin a phrase to rival ‘alternative facts’), if Philip Roth – that rara avis, a retired novelist – would emerge from literary exile to update his ahistorical novel The Plot Against America (2004), in which Charles Lindbergh, the isolationist and Nazi-inspired aviator, defeats Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential election and introduces anti-Semitic measures against young ‘Philip Roth’ and other Jewish characters in the novel. Other publications have followed suit, including The New Yorker, which interviewed the author for its January 30 edition.

Philip Roth, retired though he is and responding via email, still gave them good copy. ‘Lindbergh, despite his Nazi sympathies and racist proclivities ... had character and he had substance ... Trump is just a con artist,’ he wrote. ‘I found much that was alarming about being a citizen during the tenures of Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. But ... neither was anything like as humanly impoverished as Trump is: ignorant of government, of history, of science, of philosophy, of art, incapable of expressing or recognizing subtlety or nuance, destitute of all decency, and wielding a vocabulary of seventy-seven words that is better called Jerkish than English’.

MoMA takes a stand

The Museum of Modern Art in New York has responded impressively to Trump’s obnoxious executive order banning travel to the United States for citizens of seven Muslim nations. MoMA promptly removed some of the jewels in its crown (including Picasso’s Card player) to make way for contemporary art from Iran, Iraq, and Sudan. Each work is accompanied by a statement: ‘This is one of several such artworks ... installed ... to affirm the ideas of welcome and freedom as vital to this Museum, as they are to the United States.’ Jason Farago in the New York Times writes: ‘This welcome new voice ... is not how MoMA has spoken in the past – but, then again, this is not how presidents have spoken in the past, either.’

It will be interesting to see if any Australian galleries follow MoMA’s example and send a similarly ringing message to our super-ally.

Story time!

Since it began in 2010, the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize has attracted thousands of new entries and grown in stature both here and overseas. Now international, the Jolley Prize is worth a total of $12,500 (thanks to the remarkable generosity of Ian Dickson, our Acmeist Patron). Earlier this year, The Writers’ Academy from Penguin Random House in the United Kingdom listed it as one of the world’s ‘Best Writing Competitions’.

ABR’s commitment to short fiction doesn’t end with the Jolley Prize. We publish new short stories on our website as part of ABR Fiction, and we welcome submissions from new and established writers. Unlike Jolley Prize entries (2,000 to 5,000 words), the stories can be any length – though not Tolstoyan please. They must not have been previously published. We pay a minimum of $400 for stories published in ABR Fiction on our website. Please visit the ‘Submissions’ page there for more information.

Meanwhile, the 2017 Jolley Prize is open until April 10.

Kris Hemensley’s entourage

Your scratch entourage 250More Cordite Books have appeared, and one of them is especially welcome: Your Scratch Entourage, Kris Hemensley’s first collection in many years. Hemensley, who turned seventy in 2016, published countless books in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, but was then overtaken by – well, books. For many years he and Loretta Hemensley have run Collected Works, that gem of a bookshop in the smudgy old labyrinthine Nicholas Building on Swanston Street opposite St Paul’s Cathedral. Hemensley has done more for the circulation and appreciation of poetry in Melbourne – this country – than most. Collected Works is the first place to go to for poetry in Melbourne. How needed it is too, given the dearth of poetry sections in most general bookshops (Kahlil Gibran and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Rod McKuen do not, alone, constitute a decent poetry library). Sydneysiders will be familiar with Kinokuniya’s fantastic poetry section. But is there anything this vast bookshop doesn’t stock. (Kinokuniya is situated in The Galeries at 500 George Street.)

So it is good to have this new collection from Kris Hemensley. The poet himself, who introduces it in a witty Preface, recalls ‘a year-long conversation with prospective publisher K MacCarter about singularity, locality, expatriation, eased by occasional tots of the Japanese good stuff during which I sometimes recast him as a Jonathan Williams, dual squire of Dentdale, Cumbria, and Scaly Mountain, North Carolina, notwithstanding the Minnesota Lutheran he owned up to be’.

Poetry galore

Yet more poetry. After all, it is our annual poetry issue. Despite jeremiads of yore, Advances can’t remember a time when so much new poetry was published in Australia. UWA Publishing has weighed in with six more titles in its UWAP Poetry Series. They are Rallying (Quinn Eades), Flute of Milk (Susan Fealy), A Personal History of Vision (Luke Fischer), Charlie Twirl (Alan Gould), Dark Convicts (Judy Johnson), and Snake Like Charms (Amanda Joy). The latter includes ‘Tailings’, which won the 2016 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. Published in February, these paperback collections cost $22.95 each.

Dorothy Hewett Award

The winner of this year’s Dorothy Hewett Award is Melbourne-based writer Odette Kelada for Drawing Sybylla, a short novel ‘depicting Australian women writers’. The judges, Lucy Dougan, James Ley, and Terri-ann White, described it as ‘an intense reading experience’. In addition to a publishing contract with UWA Publishing, Odette Kelada receives $10,000 from Copyright Agency Limited Cultural Fund.

Two shortlisted writers, Carolyn Abbs (WA) and Ann-Marie Priest (QLD), were both highly commended and each receive a publishing contract and cash prize.

Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing

Entries are now open for the Monash Undergraduate Prize for Creative Writing (presented by Monash University in partnership with the Emerging Writers’ Festival). The prize, now in its sixth year, is open to students from Australia and New Zealand who are enrolled in an undergraduate or honours degree. The judges are Julie Koh, Khalid Warsame,and Rebecca Do Rozario. Entries are open until midnight on April 12 and the winner receives $4,000.

R&R in Brisbane

In the wake of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize for Literature, and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘thoughtful’ and ‘absorbing’ autobiography Born to Run (reviewed by Varun Ghosh in this issue), we can assume that the boundaries between music and writing have well and truly dissolved. The Rock & Roll Writers’ Festival in Brisbane this year (1–2 April) will explore this fusion in a series of talks. Speakers include Tim Rogers, Brentley Frazer, Kirsty Eagar, and Peggy Frew.

In true rock and roll fashion, the festival will hit the road ‘for one show only’ in Melbourne on 9 April. Visit their website for more details.

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