Richard Tipping

Richard Tipping’s Instant History is a treasure trove of uncollected and new work, in two parts. The Postcard Life brings intense responses to travel in fifteen countries in the 1970s and 1980s. From a meeting with the Empress of Iran, to sailing along the coast of Mexico; from tongue-twists in Tipperary to Vipassana meditation in the Sierras; from ancient sex in Luxor to the visual collisions of Tokyo and quietitudes in Kyoto; from drug-shattered New York to being lost in the Louvre. In the second half of the book, Rush Hour in the Poetry Library, socially pointed but affectionate poems from Tipping’s adopted home in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales mix with a sardonic politics, humorous social observation, and pictures from a philosophical writing life. Best known as a visual poet and word artist these days, Tipping brings a fresh and energetic voice to the page.

Biographical note

Richard Kelly Tipping was born in Adelaide, South Australia and studied in humanities at Flinders University. He has lived in the USA (1974/75), and the UK and Europe (1984/86). While lecturing in media arts at the University of Newcastle he completed a doctorate at the University of Technology Sydney titled Word Art Works: visual poetry and textual objects (2007). Tipping has published eight books of poetry, and is known internationally as an artist working with sign language and typographic concrete. He is strongly represented in the print collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York and the British Museum, London; and is collected in depth by the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Tipping lives
between gigs in Newcastle and Maitland, NSW.

Three poems from Instant History

Writing Class

The poet presents himself as a dichotomy.
Whatever is apparent becomes obscured,
and all the luscious facts wither into hard statistics.
Born here, did that, intended something else
but I forget what. The intruding ‘I’.
The breakneck speed on machines of make-believe
which finally slow motion curve into the cemetery.
Alibis salute the endless proud moments
passing in formal parade. I returns to me and
assumes him. The biography keeps breaking in
to the picture, looking for safety pins or paper clips or
a staple gun, anything to fence out
layers of advice peeling from public walls:
reality is for people who can’t cope with art.
Written words line up like bright pills in a glass case,
your fingers turning the key.
Time is for people who can’t stop.
Rigor mortis keeps looking at the clock.


These cont-pink faithful churches in stone-walled Tipperary
raising both armed pulpits up to rectify divided Heaven
coughing out red barns and slate-tight cottages
for slurring rain to barricade, tipping thatched tweed caps
in all the wheeling, run-down towns
to the budding eyes of mud-faced potatoes,
black and white cows chewing saturated greens
and tourist butter pats in squares of gold
ending the rainbow in a pint of real Guinness
coal-black as the castle-burning barons of Yawn.
The roads are running sore with unfinished yarns
where the truth is history trying to awake
on signs in languages both half unused
and Ireland stuck between the water and the wafer
there’s no way around the priests but a faithful daughter
with a smiling paddywhack clinging to the steeple
the North’s the gold harp stolen from the people.

Earth Heart

Blood, sap, rain and sea –
Earth’s heart is sweet water
Flowing in spirals of gravity.
Vast clouds sail past, reflecting
In a rippling blue lake of sky
Their endless ideas for change.
You can feel each slow tree
By the green shore breathing
Time’s dappled shadows in.
Fresh weather. Swallows’ wings
Near pebble edges lapped by tide
Quick dancing in the rising wind.

Note: This poem was written for Hear the Art (Earth Heart) 1996. a typographic visual poem made of bricks, 26 metres in diameter, permanently installed in the grounds of Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, NSW, Australia. Hear the Art was the winner of theinaugural acquisitive Sculpture Park Prize

 See a review of Instant History by Jean Kent at Rochford St Review.

Some publications by Richard Tipping

Soft Riots (poems)
Domestic Hardcore (poems)
Word Works – Airpoet (visual poems – folio)
Signs of Australia (photographs)
Diverse Voice (visual poems)
Nearer by Far (poems)
Headlines to the Heart (poems)
Five O’clock Shadows (poems)
The Sydney Morning (visual poems – four print folios)
Multiple Pleasures (postcard catalogue)
Public Works (visual poems – art catalogue)
Multiple Choice (art catalogue)
Lovepoem (visual poems– folio)
Subvert I Sing (visual poems)
Off the Page & back again (visual poems)
Love Cuts (photos & poems, with Chris Mansell)
Tommy Ruff: Adelaide Poems
Instant History (poems)

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Chris Mansell

There are two characters in this new collection from Flying Islands: the fox, and the farmer. They are opposed but share an existential problem. The more charismatic figure is the fox (female, only once owning ‘vixen’) who is trying to understand her environment, the role of the farmer, the singing fences, the farmer. The farmer is a solitary figure walking with a gun, trying to get things right. Each have their own good intentions; neither of them entirely comfortable where they are.

What came before

Somewhere between Daylesford and Castlemaine in Victoria, Australia, they have a fox problem. Australia in general has a ‘fox problem’. Foxes are not indigenous to the continent, and they are predators of the kind that small marsupials were unaccustomed to resisting. Foxes, along with feral cats, and various other creatures which took up ecological niches, took a great toll on the wildlife. 

It is also thought, believed strongly, that foxes attack livestock, often taking only the most delectable parts of an animal. They are not beloved by farmers. There are three ways of expressing their relationship to foxes: traps, guns, poison (1080). Savage traps are not legal, cage traps are ok – except now you have a fox in a trap; 1080 is often used but seen as unnecessarily cruel by some; and then there is the direct honesty of a gun, though less efficient.

Nevertheless, they are beautiful, alien animals; independent, foxy. In the wild they live for about three years (in captivity, much more), and their social structure depends on the conditions encountered. In some conditions there is only one breeding pair, in others all the females breed. 

They are invaders, but have made the country their own. They know nothing else. The farmer of foreign heritage and the fox are not different in that respect.

Somewhere between Daylesford and Castlemaine there is the foxline: about 200 dead and scalped foxes hung from their heels on a fence by the roadway. So beautiful in the sun.

Read Magdalena Ball‘s review at Compulsive Reader and listen to her interview

Jean Kent did a great launch speech at Anna Couani‘s The Shop Gallery in February. As always, Kent is insightful and generous. You can read her words at Rochford St Review here 


Who and what

This year saw two publications that are especially important to me: Foxline from the invincible Flying Islands, and 101 Quads from a new conjunction of publishers Puncher & Wattmann and Thorny Devil Press.  

Among  a dozen or so previous books are  Spine Lingo (from Kardoorair) and a collection of short prose fiction, Schadenvale Road (from Interactive Press). Seven Stations was published by Wellsprung Productions. This is the text of a song cycle (music by Andrew Batt-Rawden) that premiered at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and was subsequently released on CD by Hospital Hill.

I work  in a number of poetic forms, much of it experimental and in the alternative, or in unusual physical forms.

Some other  titles include: Letters  and The View from a Beach , Love Poems , The Fickle Brat (text + audio CD), Day Easy Sunlight Fine  and Mortifications & Lies  and some smaller publications and non-fiction. I have also published a children’s book, written a number of plays. I am publisher at PressPress and been a mentor to several Australian poets.

I won the Queensland Premier’s Award for Poetry and have been short-listed for the National Book Council Award and the NSW Premier’s Award and won the Amelia Chapbook Award (USA) and the Meanjin Dorothy Porter Poetry Prize.

There is more information on my site at

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