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John Tranter: Notes to Poems


Trio cover

Trio Salt Publishing (UK), September 2003. 162 pages.
ISBN 1 876857 71 4 paperback

These notes are about 9 printed pages long.

An omnibus collection of all the poems in three books published previously in Australia but long out of print: Red Movie (1972), Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets (1977), and Dazed in the Ladies Lounge (1979).
     This volume contains all the poems that appear in Red Movie, 1972, my second published volume, beginning here with the first poem in Trio. The volume Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets, 1977, is represented here beginning with the poem ‘The Tidal Wave’. The volume Dazed in the Ladies Lounge, 1979, is represented here beginning with the poem ‘Rimbaud and the Modernist Heresy’. The poems appear in the same order as they did when they first appeared in each book. In a very few cases some minor revisions have been made.
     The sonnets from Crying in Early Infancy originally had no titles; thirty-seven were given titles in 2001 for their appearance in the collection Heart Print, Salt Publications, Cambridge UK, 2001, and the remainder in 2003 for their appearance in this book. The order in which they were numbered and printed was decided in 1977 by the publisher of Crying in Early Infancy, Martin Duwell.
     This second publication provided an opportunity to identify for the reader some inconsequential but difficult-to-find literary and personal references and idiomatic usages, but these notes that follow are not meant be necessary for an understanding nor for an appreciation of the poems.
     The notes begin with the page number, a period, and the line number (titles are not counted as lines), followed by a space, then the lemma (the text to which the following note refers), followed by a right bracket, thus ], then the note. Where two or more poems appear on one page, the page number is followed by a, b or c depending on the position of that poem on the page, and the line count begins with the first line of the poem. Where the title of a poem is the subject of the note, the word “title” takes the place of a line number.
     The cover image is a photograph (by the author) of an image on a television screen: the jazz musician the late Gerry Mulligan playing a baritone saxophone.

— John Tranter, Sydney, 2003

Page 3a.title    The Orange Spot ]  During early 1966, in order to raise the sea fare to England, my wife-to-be Lyn and I worked the weekend graveyard shift at a fruit juice and takeaway coffee bar, part of the modest Orange Spot chain, in Sydney’s King’s Cross area, nocturnal haunt of prostitutes, poets, crazy people, drug addicts and criminals. They all came to the Orange Spot at one time or another.

3b.line 8    methaqualone hydrochloride ]  The sedative hypnotic drug methaqualone hydrochloride is known in Australia as Mandrax or Mandies, and the US as Quaaludes.

5.15    ‘princely nature of our elder brother’ ]  Arthur Rimbaud, ‘Âge d’or’, 1872.

5.17    ‘… may you not be long on the way!’ ]  John Ashbery, ‘Thoughts of a Young Girl’, collected in Contemporary American Poetry, Ed. Donald Hall, Penguin, Harmondsworth, Middlessex UK, 1962, page 148:

                                                    Oh my daughter,
My sweetheart, daughter of my late employer, princess,
May you not be long on the way!’

11.7    Spanish coffee ]  A strong espresso coffee with hot milk served in a glass, so named because of a homophonic likeness between the French description ‘Café au lait’ (coffee with milk) and the supposed Spanish ‘Caffé ole!’. The joke is quite old. Proust has his character Doctor Cottard say ‘Now remember, milk… I should like you to take a little clear soup, and then a little broth, but always with milk; au lait! You’ll enjoy that, since Spain is all the rage just now; ollé, ollé!’ (À la Recherche du Temps Perdu, C.K.Scott Moncrieff translation, Chatto and Windus, London, illustrated edition, 1966, volume three, page 99.)

14.2    Cronstadt ]  The name is borrowed from a character in Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, set in Paris in the 1930s. I assume he took the name from a street in Paris, the rue de Cronstadt, in the 15th arrondissement.

17.27    ‘Mon semblable! Pitoyable frère!’ ]  From Baudelaire, ‘Au Lecteur’ (‘To the Reader’) which ends: ‘Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat,/ — Hypocrite lecteur, — mon semblable, — mon frère!’ (‘You know him well, reader: this fastidious monster — / Hypocrite reader! — my double! my brother!’)

18.9    ‘Give up life, my boy, there’s nothing in it!’ ]  In Ezra Pound’s poem sequence ‘Hugh Selwyn Mauberly’ (1920) the writer Mr Nixon (said to be modelled on Arnold Bennett) gives the narrator some cynical advice about to how to get on: ‘Butter reviewers… And give up verse, my boy,/ There’s nothing in it.’

21.16    half ton of broken metal ]  In the 1950s a teenage schoolboy (known to the author) killed himself accidentally when he drove his motor bike at high speed into an oncoming truck on a country road at Bergalia, on the NSW south coast.

25.24    the sun always rising/ into heat above an unfamiliar landscape ]  The main trunk route through Turkey, Iran and Afghanistan is the backdrop for this stanza, as it is for the poem ‘Balance’.

29.3    ‘sister to breath’ ]  From Arthur Rimbaud, ‘Âge d’or’, 1872: ‘One of the voices/ always angelic/ — it is about me — / greenly expresses itself/ …and sings at this moment/ like a sister to breath…’ (All Rimbaud quotations in these notes are from Oliver Bernard’s excellent translation for the Penguin Collected Poems, 1962.)

23.13    a delicate cowboy, so blue, his dawn/ sky/ is/ too. ]  Borrowed from Ed Dorn’s poem ‘Vaquero’: ‘…in the dark brown night/ your delicate cowboy stands quite still./ …/ Yi Yi, the cowboy’s eyes/ are blue. The top of the sky/ is too.’ The pun ‘dawn’/ ‘Dorn’ is deliberate.

33.1    départ! départ ]  Arthur Rimbaud, ‘Départ’ (‘Departure’), section eight of ‘Illuminations’.

33.2    ‘ma faim’ ]  Arthur Rimbaud, from the poem ‘Fêtes de la faim’, 1872: ‘Ma faim, Anne, Anne,/ fuis sur ton âne.’ (My hunger: Anne, Anne/ flee on your donkey.’)

36.section title    The Failure of Sentiment and the Evasion of Love ]  A chapter title from Leslie Fiedler, Love and Death in the American Novel, 1959; revised edition, Stein and Day, 1966.

36.21    ‘ce n’est rien: jy suis, j’y suis toujours’ ]  (‘It is nothing; I am here, I am still here.’) Arthur Rimbaud, May 1872, the last line (italicised in the original) of the poem ‘Qu’est-ce pour nous, mon coeur, que les nappes de sang…’ (‘What does it matter to us, my heart, the sheets of blood…’).

39.23    ‘Khan coming out of Mongolia — / changes from the outside,/ Egyptian traits…’ ]  Fragments copied from books lying to hand one day in the honi soit offices (the student weekly newspaper) at Sydney University circa 1962; the earliest lines of the author’s to survive into a collection.

40.section title    The Knowledge of Our Buried Life ]  The alarmingly modern words of Matthew Arnold, seeming to presage Freud: ‘But often, in the world’s most crowded streets,/ But often, in the din of strife, / there rises an unspeakable desire/ After the knowledge of our buried life…’ (Matthew Arnold, ‘The Buried Life’, first published 1852.)

44a.12    Riemann, Boole and Lobachevsky ]  Georg Friedrich Bernhard Riemann, 1826–1866, German mathematician; George Boole, 1815–64, British (Irish) mathematician and logician; Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky 1793–1856, Russian mathematician.

47a.2    to be polite/ like Humphrey Bogart in The Treasure/ of the Sierra Madre ]  In John Huston’s 1948 film of the enigmatic writer B. Traven’s novel, Bogart plays a Fred C.Dobbs, a treacherous drifter who, early in the film, cadges coins from American tourists in the Mexican seaport of Tampico: ‘Hey mister, could you stake a fellow American to a meal?’

50b.title    Korsakoff’s Syndrome ]  Often associated with long-term chronic alcoholism. One of the symptoms of Korsakoff’s Syndrome (sometimes ‘the Korsakoff Syndrome’) is short-term memory loss.

51b.title    Surfers Paradise ]  A poetry magazine produced irregularly in Sydney, Australia, by John Forbes; also a modern beachside city in Queensland, Australia. See ‘Ode to Col Joye’.

54a.1    Yeats rises in the breathless air/ as simple as a spelling error… ]  The first word was originally a typing error. As I wrote this poem my wife was making bread in the kitchen of our home in Brisbane, and the yeast was causing the dough to rise.

55b.7    MacArthur ]  General Douglas MacArthur was in charge of the UN troops defending South Korea during the early years of the Korean War (1950–53). To drive back the masses of Chinese troops supporting the North Koreans, he proposed bombing the Yalu River (the border between North Korea and China) with nuclear weapons, and planned to invade China. US President Truman — though prepared to use atomic weapons in the conflict — forced him to resign in April 1951. In that now-almost-forgotten ‘police action’, four million lives were lost, and the seeds of American intervention in Vietnam were sown.

64a.title    Toxophilus ]  From the Greek, meaning ‘lover of the bow’. The title of a treatise (1545), a defense of archery as an ideal form of physical recreation for scholars, by Roger Ascham (pron. ASS-kuhm), 1515–68, English scholar and tutor to Queen Elizabeth I.

66b.title    NW1 ]  North-west One: the postal code of a comfortable North London suburb.

67b.10    ‘He was born with the Civil War, and was ruined/ by his sudden apprehension of the future…’ ]  John Ashbery quotes Pasternak in an epigraph to his poem ‘The Picture of Little J.A. in a Prospect of Flowers’: ‘He was spoilt from childhood by the future, which he mastered rather early and apparently without great difficulty.’

71b.3    Frank Moorhouse’s novel ]  The novel is The Electrical Experience, in which, through the middle years of the twentieth century, the lead character manages a cinema in a small Australian country town rather like Nowra, on the South Coast of New South Wales, where Moorhouse grew up. In the late 1950s as a teenager I travelled with my father to Nowra; there he bought a large stainless steel mixing vat (for the carbonated drink factory which he had established in the coastal town of Moruya, a hundred miles distant) from the factory of ‘Moorhouse the Machinery Man’.

71b.6    the Sabre ]  A US-made jet fighter, the F-86 Sabre, used by the UN forces in Korea 1950–1953.

71b.8    ruthless MiG ]  The MiG-15 jet fighter, the first Soviet supersonic jet aircraft, used in the Korean War, named after Artem Mi(koyan) and Mikhail G(urevich), Russian aircraft designers; hence the lower-case ‘i’.

78a.1    It was greasy all over like a widow ]  I believe it was John Forbes who urged me to retain a typing error in the first line: ‘widow’ should have been ‘window’.

80b.6    delicate cowboy, no glue ]  This image must have slipped across the bibliographic border into this poem without my being aware of it at the time; see the note for ‘Red Movie,’ above at 23.13: ‘a delicate cowboy, so blue, his dawn/ sky/ is/ too.’

82a.5    Su Shih ]  The Sung Dynasty Chinese poet and scholar of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism whose literary name was Su Tung P’o, A.D. 1036–1101.

85a.title    Seen from my head, the reefer on the reef,/ distorted to an image of a hunk of beef ]  For some reason I cannot now recall, this is a distorted rewriting of a couplet by Robert Adamson from his book Swamp Riddles, viz: ‘The man and bird are fishing from the headland’s reef:/ Seen through glass, distortions of my grief…’.

87a.6    a case of damaged hearing ]  In 1976, when this poem was written, I discovered that I was losing a significant part of my hearing to hereditary otoschlerosis

89a.title    Egyptian Reggae ]  The title is borrowed from John Forbes, who I suspect borrowed and adapted it from Ern Malley’s ‘Egyptian Register’.

90b.6    the container wharves ]  The shipping containers that in the late 1960s disfigured the shores of Mort Bay, in the Sydney suburb of Balmain (disfigured for the previous one hundred years by a shipyard), have been replaced by a park.

93.3-10    Afghanistan… Aden ]  The author traversed Afghanistan in the northern autumn of 1967, and called at the British-administered port of Aden in September 1966.

97.title    Rimbaud and the Modernist Heresy ]  For a life of Rimbaud see Enid Starkie, Arthur Rimbaud, Faber and Faber, London, 1960, and Graham Robb, Rimbaud, Picador, London, 2000. His later years in Africa are brilliantly researched and presented by Charles Nicholl, Somebody Else, Jonathan Cape, London, 1997. You can read my ten-page review of that book on this site.

99.16    ‘After the disasters of war… ]  The quotations are from Tu Fu’s poem ‘The Roof Whirled Away by Winds’ (from the anthology The White Pony, ed. Robert Payne, Mentor (The New American Library of World Literature), New York, 1960, page 192.

101.17    Fisher Stacks ]  The Research Library and main book repository at Fisher Library, at the University of Sydney.

104.1    Three times in one year I searched/ Batavia ]  The year was 1971–72. Batavia is now called Jakarta.

104.5    Baudelaire, dwelling in his ‘too-artistic milieu ]  Rimbaud, aged sixteen, summed up his great predecessor in a letter to his schoolteacher Paul Demeny: ‘Baudelaire is the first seer, king of poets, a real God. Unluckily he lived in too artistic a circle [‘un milieu trop artiste’]; and the form which is so much praised in him is trivial.’

104.11    like great music,/ fall short of our desire. ]  Rimbaud, ‘A Tale’ (section three of ‘Illuminations’): ‘La musique savante manque à notre désir.’

105.13    the flowers of M. Banville wither ]  Rimbaud’s poem ‘Ce qu’on dit au poëte à propos de fleurs’ (To the poet on the subject of flowers’) was addressed ‘A Monsieur Théodore de Banville’, the oldest and most respected of the neoclassical ‘Parnassian’ poets and known for his beautiful poems on exotic themes. Rimbaud’s poem was signed ‘Alcide Bava’ (‘Hercules Dribbler’, one of Rimbaud’s many pen names.) In forty rhymed quatrains, using a tone of savage mockery and employing a wide range of vigorous and bizarre imagery, he urges Banville to focus on the real, modern world: ‘In our own age of sago, when Plants work for their living…’

106.2    Aden ]  See the note for 93.3-10.

107.17    an engineer ]  In Africa Rimbaud studied photography, exploration, engineering and other practical topics with his usual obsessive thoroughness.

108. a rich young painter/ posed naked, hiding his face behind/ a photograph of your face ]  The Australian painter Brett Whiteley visited the Rimbaud museum in Charleville in 1973; the colour snapshot is reproduced on page 165 of Brett Whiteley, by Sandra McGrath, Bay Books, Rushcutters Bay (Sydney), 1979.

109.7    Santayana’s condemnation ]  George Santayana, 1863–1952, Spanish philosopher and writer in the US and Europe. ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ The Life of Reason, 1905, volume 1, chapter 12.

112.2    he told Banville to adopt/ the telephone pole as his iron-voiced lyre…Century of Hell! ]  Rimbaud, ‘Ce qu’on dit au poëte à propos de fleurs’ (see note above): ‘See! it’s the century of hell! and the telegraph poles, the iron-voiced lyre, are going to adorn your magnificent shoulders! Above all, though, give us a rhymed account of the potato blight!…’ This mocking hymn to scientific progress predates Eliot’s and Auden’s industrial landscapes by fifty years.

118.12    the colours… the unprovable yet vital need/ to have at least four ]  Unprovable when the poem was written in 1975, but not for long: ‘…the computer has made possible the solution of several long-standing problems in mathematics, such as the four-color problem first proposed in the mid-nineteenth century. The theorem stated that four colors are sufficient to color any map, given that any two countries with a contiguous boundary require different colors. The theorem was finally proved in 1976 by means of a large-scale computer at the University of Illinois.’ ‘Mathematics,’ Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, 2000.

123.25    a radio play ]  At the time the poem was written, I was a radio drama producer with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in Brisbane, Australia, producing two dozen radio plays a year.

125.16    ‘I ain’t gonna lay in Maggie’s bed no more…’ ]  The quote is a version of a line from Bob Dylan referring to working on ‘Maggie’s farm.’

126.4    Einstein… telescope ]  The image is taken from a televised documentary about the great man at Princeton.

126.11    Are you now / or have you ever been a woman? ]  A question based on the standard question asked at the US House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) hearings in the late 1940s on the film industry which resulted in the imprisonment of many writers, directors and producers : ‘Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?’

126.14    G-Men ]  ‘Government Men’, FBI agents.

126.15    Mickey Finn ]  A solution of chloral hydrate (a sedative/ hypnotic) in an alcoholic drink, designed to stupefy the drinker. Wikipedia says: “The Mickey Finn is most likely named for the manager and bartender of a Chicago establishment, the Lone Star Saloon and Palm Garden Restaurant, which operated from 1896 to 1903 in the city’s South Loop neighborhood on South State Street. In December 1903, several Chicago newspapers document that a Michael ‘Mickey’ Finn managed the Lone Star Saloon and was accused of using knockout drops to incapacitate and rob some of his customers”.

126.22    pentothal ]  Ernest Volwiler and Donalee Tabern came up with the short acting barbiturate Pentothal (1936) when they were seeking an anesthetic which could be injected directly into the bloodstream.

128.11    ice-pick ]  Trotsky was murdered, on Stalin’s orders, with an ice-pick blow to the skull, in August 1940, in his house near Mexico City. The assassin was Ramon Mercader, a Spanish-born agent for the Soviet secret police.

130.title    Leavis ]  Frank Raymond Leavis (1895–1978), an important twentieth-century British literary critic based in Cambridge. Leavis edited (1932–1953) the journal Scrutiny, whose contributors saw themselves, Leavis later said, as ‘the essential Cambridge in spite of Cambridge.’ The journal combined an intense concern with literature and morality with an interest in practical criticism.

130.title    The London Hotel ]  In the Sydney suburb of Balmain. In its early days it was called ‘The Circular Saw’. Through the nineteenth century the whine of steam-driven circular saws could be heard all over Balmain as they cut planks for the boats being built at Mort’s shipyard, the main employer of labour in the area.

130.10    bandages and a black eye… Humphrey Bogart ]  In the 1947 movie Dark Passage, set in San Francisco, Vincent Parry (Humphrey Bogart) escapes from prison after being wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder. He hides out (with Lauren Bacall). His photo is all over the papers, and soon a taxi driver recognises him. The driver believes in his innocence, and recommends a plastic surgeon. The first half of the movie is shot from the hero’s point of view; we first see his face after the surgery, when the bandages come off. Guess who he looks like?

132.title    The Forest Lodge Hotel ]  The hotel is in a Sydney suburb adjacent to the University of Sydney; in the 1970s, haunt of students, junkies, drunks and others.

132.5    General Paresis ]  “General paresis” is a late manifestation of syphilis, characterized by progressive dementia and paralysis.

135.16    Suzanne Pleshette ]  US actress, star of Rage to Live (1965) and other movies. A reviewer describes that film thus: ‘A badly executed adaptation of John O’Hara’s novel starring Pleshette as a young, wealthy nymphomaniac who has numerous affairs with her mother’s country club friends.’ It might be hard to credit, but the title Rage to Live is taken from some lines of Alexander Pope (from ‘Moral Essays: Epistle to a Lady’):

Wise Wretch! with Pleasures too refin’d to please,
With too much Spirit to be e’er at ease,
With too much Quickness ever to be taught,
With too much Thinking to have common Thought:
Who purchase Pain with all that joy can give,
And die of nothing but a Rage to live.

135.18    Ladies Lounge ]  In Australian hotels or pubs until the 1970s, a public bar (usually spelled thus without the possessive apostrophe) reserved for ladies and their partners where unaccompanied men were not allowed, and where alcohol was served. Women were not allowed in the main public bar in most hotels, lest the rough language of the inebriated men therein offend them. In the craft of signwriting, when the possessive apostrophe needed to be attached to a plural noun such as ladies, the occasional signwriter, wary of solecisms, would omit the apostrophe altogether.

133.title    Poets’ Ball ]  The 1979 Poets’ Conference and Ball, held at a workers’ club in Wollongong on 30 September, was a remarkably boisterous event. The guest speaker was Canadian poet Philip Roberts who addressed the gathering on ‘The Death of the Poet’. Scheduled local readers were Ken Bolton, Sal Brereton, June Cooney, Chris Cooney, Laura Molino, Malcolm Black and Sid Bentley, and scheduled visiting readers included Nigel Roberts, Philip Roberts, Dorothy Porter, Denis Gallagher, Donna Maigraith, Pi O and John Tranter (substituting for New Zealander Louis Johnson.) Poet Rae Desmond Jones took a number of photographs of the event, which in 2010 were still extant.

133.4    D.H.Lawrence ]  Lawrence stayed from May to August 1922 in a cottage (named ‘Wyewurk’) in Thirroul, a town on the east coast of Australia near Wollongong, a steel and coal-mining city. Lawrence wrote his novel Kangaroo while staying there.

133.10    Chocolate Wheel ]  A chocolate wheel is a simple gambling device consisting of a large painted and numbered wheel, rather like a home-made roulette wheel, mounted (with the plane of its radius vertical) on a pole. When it stops spinning, a flexible stop indicates the lucky number.

134.title    Exiles Bookshop ]  ‘Exiles’ was established by Susumu Hirayanagi and Nicholas Pounder at 207 Oxford Street, Sydney, in February 1979, and closed in late 1982. This poem was written before the German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger had ever considered visiting Australia. It was published by Nicholas Pounder in Polar Bear magazine, in an issue (the only issue published) devoted to Enzensberger, and was displayed in the window of the shop when Enzensberger called by in 1981.

135.14    a drink with Gerry Wilkes ]  At the time, Professor of English at the University of Sydney. This poem and the four ‘Radio Traffic’ poems were written in a style imitative of that of John Forbes, who had studied English under Professor Wilkes. The use of ampersands is Forbesian, and for some reason I made many of the line endings in these poems grammatically ambiguous.

136.15    Pop Rocks ]  A brand name of a type of candy, the granules of which effervesce in the mouth.

137.7    the Labomba ]  A dance popular in the 1950s.

138.15    Laxettes ]  A laxative in the form of a chocolate bar, sold in Australia.

138.15    dunny ]  1950s Australian slang for lavatory, toilet.

140.title    Tricycle ]  ‘Tricycle’ was the code-name of the brilliant double agent Dusko Popov, born into a wealthy Yugoslav family. He was recruited into the German Abwehr, reported the approach to the British, and worked as a British double agent through World War II, visiting his German controllers in Lisbon seven times between 1941 and 1944. At the end of the war Popov obtained British nationality and was awarded the OBE. The title would have been more appropriate to ‘Radio Traffic 2: Flak Static’, and is perhaps attached to this poem in error.

141.9    E.N.G. ]  Electronic News Gathering; i.e. with portable video cameras linked by radio to head office, rather than with the older film cameras and tape recorders. The poem reflects morale problems and union unrest within the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in the late 1970s.

144.14    Doktor Mabuse ]  Dr. Mabuse the Gambler, (1922), four-hour silent movie about a criminal genius who wants to conquer the world, directed in Weimar Germany by Fritz Lang.

145.9    As when a detective in the spring ]  See Matthew Arnold’s ‘Sohrab and Rustum’, lines 556–575:

As when some hunter in the spring hath found
A breeding eagle sitting on her nest,
Upon the craggy isle of a hill-lake,
And pierced her with an arrow as she rose,
And follow’d her to find her where she fell
Far off; — anon her mate comes winging back
From hunting, and a great way off descries
His huddling young left sole; at that, he checks
His pinion, and with short uneasy sweeps
Circles above his eyry, with loud screams
Chiding his mate back to her nest; but she
Lies dying, with the arrow in her side,
In some far stony gorge out of his ken,
A heap of fluttering feathers — never more
Shall the lake glass her, flying over it;
Never the black and dripping precipices
Echo her stormy scream as she sails by —
As that poor bird flies home, nor knows his loss,
So Rustum knew not his own loss, but stood
Over his dying son, and knew him not.

146.title    Ode to Col Joye ]  Col Joye (Colin Jakobsen) and his brother Kevin were entrepreneurs of popular music in Australia from the late 1950s; Colin headed a rock band called ‘Col Joye and the Joye Boys.’ The title is a pun on Schiller’s ‘Ode to Joy (‘An die Freude’, 1785), set to music by Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony.

146.11    a faint vapour trail/ across the Malayan sky ]  John Forbes’s father was a civilian meteorologist with the Royal Australian Air Force and John lived for some years as a child on the air force base at Butterworth in Malaya, near Penang.

147.34    Canberra poet ]  In the 1970s the poet Les Murray attracted a school of morally serious acolytes (Alan Gould, Kevin Hart, and Mark O’Connor) in Australia’s capital, Canberra, where the poet Professor A.D.Hope was also influential.

148.3    South Coast Haiku ]  Laurie Duggan’s deeply ironic ‘South Coast Haiku’ is about young counter-cultural people dropping out and living close to nature on the South Coast of New South Wales: ‘Rain drips through/ The tin roof/ Missing the stereo.’

148.14    Doug Anthony… The Land ]  Doug Anthony, a wealthy grazier and deputy Prime Minister of Australia for many years, was leader of the Country Party, a rural political party allied in a coalition with the conservative Liberal Party which ruled Australia for 23 years under Menzies, and later under other leaders. The Land is a newspaper for farmers.

148.17    Bob Adamson… bank robber ]  Australian poet Robert Adamson spent some years of his youth in reform school and jail. The death of the bank robber in a nearby suburb happened not long before the poem was written.

148.35    a poem by Auden ]  The poem is ‘On the Circuit’, about a poetry reading tour through the US, and in fact ends ‘Another morning comes: I see / Dwindling below me on the plane, / The roofs of one more audience / I shall not see again. / / God bless the lot of them, although / I don’t remember which was which: / God bless the U.S.A., so large, / So friendly, and so rich.’

149.8    a beat-up Renault, how/ Sydney, and how French! ]  An oblique reference to Ken Bolton’s book Blonde and French, whose title refers to the first line of Frank O’Hara’s poem ‘Meditations in an Emergency’: ‘Am I to become profligate as if I were blonde? Or religious as if I were French?’

150.4    Martin Duwell ]  The Brisbane-based academic and publisher of three of the author’s books: The Blast Area, Crying in Early Infancy: 100 Sonnets, and the anthology The New Australian Poetry. Martin is a scholar of Icelandic, and had travelled to Iceland. ‘Reykjavik’ was misspelled ‘Rekyavik’ in the poem’s first appearance in the volume Dazed in the Ladies Lounge (1979).

150.16    Don Chipp ]  Renegade from the ruling conservative Liberal Party, the founder of the splinter Australian political party the Democrats (in 1977), a middle-class, earnest and socially concerned party which for many years held the balance of power in the Senate, the upper house of review in the Australian Parliament. Their motto: ‘Keep the bastards honest’. Twenty years on, party leader Meg Lees betrayed a promise of her own (at the Australian National Press Club: ‘We will not vote for a tax on books’) when she did a deal with the (conservative) Liberals to impose a ten per cent federal sales tax on books. So much for ‘honest’ politicians. The Democrats’ moral coign of vantage has since been occupied by the Greens.

150.22 Rodney Hall ]  British-born Australian poet and novelist.

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