veils sails or waves never will abolish the porthole
neither cataract nor tears ever will abolish the retina
a throw of flowers never will abolish sorrow
Virtu L ce qui ne se voit pas n’existe pas objet toi Le plus visible Le plus accessible Le plus vite possible
hopLa! tout entier dans son image comme Narcisse sans reste aucun mirez-moi ca transparence absolue transparence tue
Virtu L which is not seen doesn’t exist object you the most visibLe the most accessibLe the most readily possibLe
HopLa! entirely whole in one’s image like Narcissus nothing left over behold id absolute transparency dead muted transparency
Philip Hammial grew up in and around Detroit, Michigan, where he spent his teenage years getting into serious trouble, a juvenile delinquent with too much imagination for his own good. After three years in the engine rooms of US Navy ships he went to Olivet College in Olivet, Michigan, and then to Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, where he ‘discovered’ poetry, art, philosophy and history. Graduating with honours in English Literature and Philosophy in 1963, he went on to travel the world for a total of ten years, visiting seventy-four countries and working in three – Denmark, England and Greece.
In 1972 he arrived in Sydney on a tourist visa and nine months later was granted a residents visa. He is now an Australian citizen, married with one child, a daughter born in 1997, and has been living in the Blue Mountains since 1994. He has published twenty collections of poetry, one of prose and is the editor of 25 poetes australiens, an anthology published in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec and Paris. He is also the editor (with Ulli Beier and Rudy Krausmann) of the seminal Outsider Art in Australia. As the director of The Australian Collection of Outsider Art, he has curated or helped to organize twenty-six exhibitions of Australian Outsider Art – in Australia, Germany, France, Belgium and the US. In 1979 he became the editor of Island Press. Possibly the oldest small press in Australia still publishing poetry, Island was founded in 1970 by Philip Roberts and has published forty-seven titles to date. Hammial is also an artist. He has had thirty-three solo exhibitions and his work has been included in seventy group exhibitions.
Two of his poetry collections were short-listed for the Kenneth Slessor Prize – Bread in 2001 and In the Year of Our Lord Slaughter’s Children in 2004. He has represented Australia at four overseas poetry festivals – Poetry Africa 2000 in Durban, South Africa; the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poesie, Paris, 2000; The World Festival of Poets, Tokyo, 2000 and the Festival International de la Poesie, Trois Rivieres, Quebec, 2004. In 2001 he had a one month writer-in-residency at the Fundacion Valparaiso in Mojacar, Spain.
A member of the Woodford Bush Fire Brigade between 1995 and 2003, Hammial fought many of the fires that raged through the Blue Mountains during those years. An environmental and human rights activist, he has worked as a volunteer for the Wilderness Society and for the Free Tibet Action Group.
Translator Song Zijiang
In National Library of Australia
Huang Lihai was born in the 70s in Xuwen county, the southernmost tip of the Chinese mainland. His poems have been included in more than one hundred anthologies and he has published a number of poetry collections, including I Know Little about Life, Feed Rainbows to the Birds and Who Can Outrun Lightning. He has written essays and critiques on art, dance, film, and poetry. In 1999, he founded Poetry and People journal and in 2005 established the Poetry and People International Poetry Award. He has won a number of prizes, including the 8th Lu Xun Literature and Arts Award, Phoenix TV’s Annual Artist Award, the Lebanon International Literary Award and the first Hai Zi Poetry Award. He is currently the editor of China and Western Poetry Magazine.
Translator(s) 譯者, 客遠文Kit Kelen, 宋子江Song Zijiang
Gail Hennessy was educated at Our Lady of Mercy College Cronulla and graduated from the University of Sydney with a BA degree in 1959. From 1960 to 1988 she lived and worked in Canberra with her husband and five children. During the 1970s and 1980s her poetry was widely published in regional and national newspapers and literary journals. She was an active member of the Canberra branch of the Society of Women Writers.
In 1988 she moved to Newcastle. During the 1990s she committed herself to academic work in the field of Australian/Aboriginal studies, graduating in 1999 from the University of Newcastle with a Masters degree by research into the autobiographies of Aboriginal women. This work led to her successful PhD thesis of 2004, ‘Testimonio: Witnessing my Mother’s Life in Twentieth Century Australia’. After completing her thesis Hennessy returned to poetry and has been successful in a number of competitions and anthologies. In 2009 she produced a collection of old and new works under the title Witnessing which derived from her PhD work. (Biography provided by author to the National Library of Australia.)
Hennessey’s Written on Water (Flying Island Books) was published in 2017. The M Word (Girls on Key) was published in 2018 . It is a memoir about postnatal psychosis, and addresses the stigma around mental illness.
In National Library of Australia
In my Mother’s Garden
for Gail Hennessy
first thing from the veranda
an orchestra tuning
instruments of bright …
Kit Kelen, ‘secret no one can keep’
For an hour before dawn a secret bird
practises its song. Nine notes,
a melody neat
as an artlessly tied silk scarf,
too quicky looped &
flung around the neck of the garden
for its labour to linger in my ear.
In this drowsing twilight my dream –
harrowing empty corridors,
seeding departed rooms
with small hopes of finding my mother—
ends with a bunch of hospital flowers,
a bought garden bright in my hands
but no dented metal dipper like hers
offering a rainwater bath before a vase.
Spangled with spiderwebs her garden
makes mazes now—
narrow pathways with more room
for plants than people.
Under the curtaining wisteria
who will take banana peel
to the orchids? Who will shiver the dew
over the freesias and the thryptomene?
Who will follow her,
snipping and sniffing and accepting
the riddles of sleeping under earth
and waking seasons later
as if the secret we forget could never be
that we’re just flutter-byes,
brief flittery visitors
to these springs, premature
or predictably passing
in a wink?
Remembering our hydrangeas of childhood,
how patiently they waited for summer
to fill heads with sky-blue
I think of the man in Japan
drowned in tears after the 2011 tsunami,
searching for his family in the Fukushima ruins
until, at last, he planted canola,
a maze of rising sunshine,
a place to be happily lost.
Though it will not last forever,
the light is longer there.
It opens the faces of visitors like secrets
everyone is happy to share.
For this season of flowering, at least,
we all know
if we save the garden, the garden may save us.
Hello Flying Islanders!
I’m very excited to have been warmly welcomed into this community and blogosphere as an honorary member after launching Steve Armstrong’s latest pocket book of poetry What’s Left.
I’m a poet, and emerging literary critic, living on Darkinjung country on the Central Coast of NSW. My chapbook, A Fistful of Hail, was published by Vagabond Press in 2018.
Here’s a poem from that collection, which inspired the title:
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands; you shall be blessed…
Time has scalloped and tightly crimped
the hill’s stone — all the troughs
and rifts of its flanks studded
with cypress, laurels. The Acrocorinth
juts into wind above the yellowed vineyards
and timber pig-sheds, the fish
like wands of garnet or black-spotted quartz
carving the shallows at Vrahati beach.
My grandfather’s people
clusters of bitter-and-sweet jade fruit
from the vines, while time – like a god’s
hand on the hill – tapped off seams
of limestone with the rain’s pick, or pounded out
trenches with fistfuls of hail, lightning.
In the village, pines drip
resin in the brush. I walk
dirt tracks where hens pace for seed. In dusty
gardens, in olive groves, the goats swank
oily beards, the hammered scrolls
of horns, gnashing thyme thickets — the Acrocorinth
pale as whey to the south. From here
I make out the old acropolis extruding
from the hill like blunted teeth; I probe,
till my eyes ache, for Aphrodite’s
temple, nesting somewhere in the high
ridges. The Corinthian Gulf flickers
down a north-east road, and I know
this evening the sun will strut there like a peacock
trailing long feathers across
the water. Soon, I’ll walk back
to my great uncle’s house.
He’ll empty wine from a barrel.
He’ll tell me stories of his brother’s fist.
I’ve seen the x-rays — my mother’s
dented wrist, forearm — all the fractured
bones. And I’ll think of those hands,
coaxing, on the vines; and I’ll think of a god
with a fistful of hail. I’ll drink
the cool, bitter pink liquid, and currents
of sweetness will twist
through each mouthful.
‘Acrocorinth’ was first published in Philament Journal — Precarity, Vol. 22 December 2016; and appeared in The Best Australian Poems 2017.
Dominique Hecq grew up in the French-speaking part of Belgium. She now lives in Melbourne. With a BA in Germanic Philology, an MA in literary translation, and a PhD in English, Hecq writes across genres and disciplines—and sometimes across tongues. Her creative works include a novel, three collections of stories, and ten volumes of poetry— Kaosmos (Melbourne Poets Union) and Tracks: Autofictional Fragments of a Journey without Maps (Recent Work Press), both published in 2020 are her latest.
Among other honours such as the Melbourne Fringe Festival Award for Outstanding Writing and Spoken Word Performance, the Woorilla Prize for Fiction, the Martha Richardson Medal for Poetry, the New England Poetry Prize, and the inaugural AALITRA Prize for Literary Translation (Spanish to English), Dominique Hecq is a recipient of the 2018 International Best Poets Prize administered by the International Poetry Translation and Research Centre in conjunction with the International Academy of Arts and Letters.
Fencing with Béatrice Machet in 2018, Dominique contributed a bilingual Flying Islands Press pocket book titled Crypto.
Plus proche de l’aube
Attrape le jour par la peau du coup
les retours au bercail ont les dents pointues
bien qu’ignorantes du sens elles mordent et
les premières rondeurs avec un premier amour
sombres et douces les paroles
se fondent dans le tourbillon de l’encre
que nous appelons survie
goutte à goutte c’est toi-même reflété et recueilli
aussi noir que le souffle quand il se faufile
entre les crocs
sous le soleil qui louche
si chaud tu te glisses à l’intérieur
en fuite et griffonne
au sujet de rencontres
ne t’appartient pas—
est ta main qui salue
que pourrait-elle attraper qui ne s’échapperait
mais un « je »
avec multiples voix
et personnages sauvant
scénarios et fragments de temps
ou de mort
quelles quantités pour la même chose
mais un I
ceberg en guise de bateau
revendiquant son extériorité
qui fermente jusqu’à ce que gonflé jusqu’à
ce qu’éclaté prématurément
en essayant pourtant d’être plus humain
alors que des dents de glace s’écrasent sur le rivage
Nearer this dawn
Pick up the day by the scruff of the neck
homecomings have sharp teeth
though ignorant of meaning they bite
taking puppy fat for puppy love
and dark soft words
melt in ink swirl we call
drop by drop it is
your very self reflected and gathered
as dark as breath when it sneaks out
under the cross-eyed sun
so hot you creep inside
and scribble at large
a rainbow bird—which
doesn’t belong to you—
is your hand wavering
what could it grasp that wouldn’t escape
but an I
with multiple voices
and personae salvaging
scenarios and pieces of time
which amounts to the same thing
but an I
ceberg standing for the ship
claiming its outsiderhood
fermenting till swollen till
prematurely split open
yet trying to be more human
as iceteeth crash on the shoreline