Presenting: George Anderson
Jenny, the Blindman & I
We stroll intimately
with locked arms
up Symonds Street
up to the Thai Archer
the Blindman quietly
humming a tune
which pops into his head
the songs simply appear
he can’t explain why
He feels her nails scratching his
plaster cast & he halts cattle like
at the corner. He prefers the early
bop phase of jazz- music as impro-
visation. Music as making it up on
the spot. Totally living for the moment.
Only seven days before he was strumming
Junior Wells’ blues classic
‘this old fool’ in his lounge room
with such uninhibited vigour
that his wrist cartilage frayed
from the bone on his right
arm. the doc diagnosed that
after the Blindman had fallen from
the ladder eight yrs ago- the
surgeon had bolted his muscles
incorrectly from the inside. he
keeps the titanium screws & bolts
by his bed in a small plastic container
I was thinking such abstruse thoughts as
Jenny, the Blindman and I approach the
roundabout at Royal Oak- the smell of pad pak
& kfc wafting into the crisp autumnal air.
Man Arrested Over 300 Dead Cats in Freezers
I guess this is as good a place
as any to start this poem. Now
I’ve got your attention let me
discuss the underlying matter
at hand. How do you attract
a contemporary audience which
invariably runs a mile when they
hear the word poem or literature
or any of the other derogatory terms
associated with self reflection and
which do not make any reference
to face book or ebay or their self
obsessed friends who purchase
skim lattes and gym subscriptions
on credit? But I am straying from the
topic here like take this poem this
piece of art. I’m making what I am
doing now look easy. As if anyone
any moron can do it. Look no hands.
For instance the notion I am making
there appear a sense of form where
none exists. If you have simply
skimmed this poem before turning
the page you have missed out. You
have denied yourself a shrewd and
capricious insight into the artistic
process. Capricious. Now that is
some ugly word. Delete it. Backspace.
The question remains: How do you
make this dead canary of a poem
sing? What if I threaten to strangle
it with my bare hands and what if
when it finally tweeps it comes out
type type dissonant as if the canary
really didn’t want to sing, that it sees
itself forced screaming & kicking onto
the page wanting simply to exist without
any formal desire to understand the big
issues. To contemplate reality. And what
if I fed the bird a special pharmaceutical
treat to help pump up its lungs and what
if it just sat there its wings flapping madly
in the gust of my anger I’m yelling at
the dumb being: ‘No more bullshit, man.
I don’t care if you are note perfect. Or
even whether you can hold a recognisable
tune’. I tell you mate I just want my canary to
sing with some sense of itself. If its song is ugly
I really wouldn’t care. An ugly beauty that’s
what I want. An ugly beauty in which the
people of the small towns & streets will drop
their ipods and look up in awe and be trans-
figured. No that sounds too pompous. Delete.
Italics. Man, I just want my canary to sing its
heart out. I’ll wrap a microphone around its
puny yellow head and blast its cheeps through
youtube and if you dear reader are interested
in purchasing a CD of its melodic meanderings
kindly click on the title above and note to send
cash preferably in large American denominations.
in his bent
his breaths like great oceans
trickling in gasps of oxygen
The Hypnopedic Rantings of Helmholtz Watson Upon His Triumphant Return from the Icelandic Sub-Centre
You belong to me bitch
‘History is bunk’- my ass
Take a reality pill- for the immediate intensification of consciousness
Mending is actually better than ending.
Original thought for the day: ‘No pain, no gain’.
Multiple choice quiz:
Aldous Huxley is:
(a) a didactic chronicler of humanity with extremely poor eye sight
(b) a celebrity dropper of acid
(c) my father
A Do It Yourself Rhyming Poem:
The World State sux
Pneumatic Lenina ____
TRUE or FALSE
John Savage likes best to:
(a) down Soma
(b) grossly parody Shakespeare
(c) self flagellate
FORD YOU, FORD OFF, Mustapha!
A short piece of emotional engineering:
When you are hurt & upset
Words can be like x-rays
Penetrating the truth
Transforming our alpha selves
Terence On His Deathbed
We receive an urgent call
they reckon Terry is dying
his kidneys are packing up
His son Kerry can’t make it this time
he’s been through the vigil before
heard the empty prayers
heard the whisperings about inheritance
We sign an indemnity form
requesting no further treatment to be made
as usual, he lies there inert on the bed
his mouth propped open
In the ward I hold his hand
& he bursts spontaneously into song
the words garbled, fragmented
songs from the Pacific War
There is a foul stench in the air
Terry opens his eyes temporarily
& in a sudden flush of consciousness
he yells out: ‘I’VE SHIT MYSELF!’
On the 7th day
Toe- the oracle asks once again-
What of celibacy, the adoption of orphans
Is this all we have endeavored to achieve?
What good the collection plates?
What good the luster of the pulpit?
What good the gift of tongues?
To perfect holiness
And to crescent shaped gods
Worked crudely into tropes
And to the grinding axis
And to the stars/ to the wind
To every mouth making mad prophesy-
The drunken stoic
The ecstatic lap dancer
The psychotic wild rose
To her humble utility
To her simple gifts
To her trance inducing gyrations
Toe- the oracle asks for the penultimate time-
What good is moral certitude
When love lies elsewhere?
Questions and Answers
Q)‘Dancing On Thin Ice’ your latest chapbook is now available through erbacce press. The interesting cover art places an iconic Australian animal in a Canadian wintry setting. The reverse of this is that you the man born in Canada currently lives in Australia. How big of a role does ‘place’ play in the book?
GA)Montreal was an amazing place to grow up in and features in about fifty of my poems but I consider sense of place as marginal in this collection. My real intension is to explore the quirkiness and pretense of human behaviour. I’ve included a diverse range of stock underground characters in this book- a spurned lover, a midget, a sperm donor, a 821 pound woman, a crazy hippy, a vasectomy patient, a violent prisoner, an alcoholic with the DTs and others. The settings are usually explicit but the poems are essentially character driven. Experimental poems like ‘The’, ‘Pride & Prejudice’, ‘Road kill’ and ‘Beerwigs’ transcend place because they are written to provide a satiric comment on art, literature and the creative process.
Q)How do you put your poems together, do you go into a writing session with specific ideas or do you riff on the page?
GA)Each poem is unique and the process never follows a set pattern. In ‘Art’ the speaker/ poet explains to a fan during coitus ‘I just write the stuff/I don’t pontificate about it’. But of course there is more to it than that. Poetry is a conscious process in which every aspect needs to be shaped for the intended audience. In ‘The’ the speaker has spent a whole lifetime trying to rewrite one sentence but he can’t get beyond the word ‘the’ because there are too many possibilities and if he continues the sentence it will inhibit the creation of other meanings. I’m starting to sound like a literary critic but my point is that as a writer you need to learn to combine a sense of spontaneity with the conscious artistic act. I rarely sit down to write unless I already have an idea in mind. Sometimes it simply consists of a title as in ‘Man Arrested Over 300 Dead Cats in Freezer’ and it just pours out. Other times as in ‘On the Road’ in the new chapbook I am shaping personal experience from an amalgam of incidents and the editing process can be arduous. My poetry has the semblance of autobiography but is essentially fictional. The poems I write for the children’s commercial market and my political poems usually require more extensive drafting and research. Over the next two weeks, for example, I intend to research and write a poem about Aboriginal children playing in asbestos tailings in a remote mining community. My use of free verse format makes it easier for me to shape the material.
Q)Working as a teacher are you ever conflicted by the responsibility of teaching others when you yourself are still learning about life?
GA)Hahaha! Good question. Ummm.. I guess if you knew more about the specific content of the chapbook ‘Dancing On Thin Ice’ you wouldn’t be asking many questions related to my teaching. The chapbook is influenced by underground poetry and contains some sexual references and strong language which is not appropriate for under 18s. I carefully separate my adult writing from my work as a teacher. Anyways, I always thought I wanted to teach but I realised I needed to gain other experiences before I took it up. I left Montreal when I was 23 because of the ongoing separatist debate and lived in Vancouver before heading for New Zealand and later Australia, mainly in Sydney. I started teaching in my early thirties in a large working class school near Penrith. In the fifteen years before this I had a wide variety of jobs including factory work in a ski manufacturing plant, storeman in the navy, scrubcutter, tobacco picker, flesso in a shearer’s shed, truck driver, conveyance officer, will maker and administrator of deceased estates, archivist, advertising agent for Claude Neon, youth worker. I even had a stint in the Canadian Grenadier Guards changing the guard at Parliament House in Ottawa. If you are an open and perceptive person you will always be learning more about life. Every day I learn something new in class and I feel extremely privileged to teach some of the brightest 17-18 year old minds in the country.
Q)You edit the student literary magazine ‘Ephemeral’, tell us more about this?
GA)At the end of 2002 two of my students came first in the State in two separate English courses. An amazing result for the young men. The Sydney Morning Herald, the largest circulating paper in Australia was trying to contact me later that day. I went to the beach. The principal told the paper I was a poet and my name ‘George Anderson, poet’ appeared on the front page of the Herald the following day. This was picked up my Maxine McKew of the now defunct national magazine The Bulletin. She is the same woman who defeated the former Prime Minister John Howard last year. At the time I had only published about 15 fairly rudimentary poems. Later in 2003 my poetry was improving and I decided to launch a poetry journal to feature the best poetry written by students at the school that year. It would give me valuable experience in editing, formatting and cover design. I formed a poetry group. Alan Wearne the iconic Australian poet from the University of Wollongong and his students, including Bonnie Cassidy, Tim Cahill and Michael Andrews also helped by conducting a number of workshops. The journal Ephemeral is now in its fifth print edition and my students help out with formatting and poem selection.
Q)Having had your work featured in numerous publications what advice would you give to a young writer who is looking to get a few publishing credits to their name?
GA)My advice to young writers seeking publication is to write what you want, when you want. If you want to get some of your stuff published read the work of others and learn from it. With so many publishing opportunities today especially on the net the important question is what do you do with the poems and what you hope to achieve by writing the stuff? I’m still grappling with that one every time I write.
Q)Are there any poets currently knocking about whose words you enjoy reading?
GA)I love reading poetry especially on the net because of its huge variety and rawness. At the moment I’m drawn to innovative alternative writers like Justin Hyde, Karl Koweski, Rob Plath, Misti Rainwater-Lites and older poets like A.D. Winans, Stephen Dunn, Jack Hirschman, Greg Glazner and John Tranter. In Australia I enjoy the experimental writing coming out of Cordite, Overland and Famous Reporter but many writers today seem obsessed with obtaining a PHd and consequently much of the writing is remote and overly academic. There are no sites in Australia remotely approaching the likes of Zygote in My Coffee, Word Riot, Lit Chaos or Gloom Cupboard for that matter.
Q)Through poetry what do you want to achieve in the next five years?
GA)I don’t set any goals regarding my poetry and as Mike Estabrook has pointed out you are only as good as your last poem. One step at a time. Later in the year I will publish a 73 page book through Perspicacious Press which will feature some of my best writing for children. I have also recently compiled a mainstream collection ‘Earth & Sky’ and hope to get this accepted before the end of the year. I probably have enough alternative material for another chapbook or two. Beyond that I’ll just try to keep cranking them out and see what happens.