Negative Answers: An Interview about Poetry
q. do you read any australian poetry?
a. no. not really. why?
q. what about those big ones such as les murray and peter porter?
a. isn't peter porter a british guy? no. i didn't read him.
q. and murray?
a. you mean les murray? isn't that the sbs hungarian guy who comments on succor-sorry, how do you spell it?
q. soccer, i think.
a. oh, he writes poetry, does he? about soccer games?
q. skip this (muttering to himself). you know who's winning what?
a. what's winning who? what you mean?
q. you yourself a poet?
a. no. i'm not. why would i?
q. didn't you used to get published a lot under the name of youyangs or something?
a. you mean the youyangs? or ouyen? no. i never did, actually. it's the aboriginal words.
q. you know some poetry anthologies published recently?
a. no, like what?
q. like john leonard's oxford anthology.
a. oh, no. i didn't. leonard da vinci. isn't that the great italian painter? how come he edited australian poetry? and oxford? so, was it published by the english? in england?
q. i suppose so. i don't really see the difference. anyway. let's go on. you know it is available in big book shops.
a. oh is it really? so what? who gives the fuck? i don't.
q. and john tranter and philip mead's penguin book of australian poetry?
a. no. is mead margaret's brother also specialising in anthropology?
q. oh my god (muttering to himself again). but did you ever go buy such books?
a. rubbish! why? why would i buy such things?
q. why not?
a. i don't know. Don't ask me.
q. is that because they don't include any asians?
a. probably-but what has that got to do with me. I'm not asian.
q. but you look like one.
a. do i? fuck it, do i? you look more like one than me because you wear characters on your chest.
q. that's getting confusing. you've got a comfortable life in australia, don't you?
a. me? materially or spiritually or culturally or sexually or whateverly?
q. whateverly then, if you prefer that way.
a. fuck, i don't know. don't ask me these stupid questions. let me down this beer.
q. all right. can i join you?
a. oh yeh, why not? no worries. i'll shout you.
Back in the Dark Age
Not back to the dark age
But back in the dark age
Like back in Melbourne
Where I have stopped dreaming
Of something more postmodern
And have begun experiencing
The excitement of a poet multi-century ago
Making a book of his own poetry
The way a peasant did to his field
A cook to his food
A woman to her yarn
The only way he or she knew how
Without the knowledge and assistance of print technology
As I watch my own hands
Folding my poetry in half
Like something alive, shivering
Tearing it in the middle
Giving the primitive instinct a go
Knowing as I did in a chinese poem last night
This will be the only choice
And possibly the best one
For people like me
In this dark age
Before we manage to die properly
The Oriental Girl in William Street
each time I went past you
I saw your night skin
and rain-coloured eyes
my belated imagination
raised its head to look up at the stockinged sky
through the triangle of your high heels
at a wild moment in my fantasy
I bought you
and stripped you of your night skin
and searched for the footnote
to my soul
in your rain-coloured eyes