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Thursday, 25 August 2016

POET OF THE MONTH #38: Ewa Lipska

EWA LIPSKA, May 2006


Children meet at nostalgic dinner-parties.
Children meet in executive sessions.
Children are experienced.
Some of them cannot recognize a swan.

Children have identity papers.  Birth certificates.
Health records.  Certificates of death.
Children choose their leaders who
make speeches praising rocking horses.

Children hijack planes and kidnap ministers.
Children emigrate to the ends of earth.
Children submit reports about their parents.
Children fight for the rights of wooden dolls.
Children sit in astrakhan fur coats.
Pink cakes fly through the air.
Children recall the fallen Roman Empire
and nod their little heads.
In the huge kindergarten of nations
children play ball and
spit cherry stones at each other.
They switch on an artificial sun
that rises like a mitigating circumstance.
Then children put aside their toys
and start to produce some new children.

date unspecified


The Poet: The following biographical statement written by Ad van Rijsewijk and translated from Dutch by Michele Hutchison appears on the Poetry International Rotterdam website.  [It is re-posted here for information purposes only and, like the poem re-posted above, remains its author's exclusive copyright-protected intellectual property.]

Ewa Lipska is one of the most important Polish poets of her generation.  She studied painting at the Academy for Fine Arts in Krakow, and from 1970 to 1980 she worked as an editor at the Krakow publishing house Wydawnictwo Literackie.  In the 1990s she lived for seven years in Vienna, where she was assistant manager of the Polish Cultural Foundation.

She debuted as a poet in 1967 with the collection Wiersze [Poems], and from then until 1978 she published four more collections, from Drugi zbior wierszy [The Second Poetry Collection] up to Piaty zbior wierszy [The Fifth Poetry Collection].  She has now published more than twenty poetry collections and several anthologies.  Her most recent poetry collection Pomarańca Newtona [Newton’s Orange] was published in 2007, and her first novel, Sefer, in 2009.

Lipska’s work has been awarded various literary prizes and her books have been translated into fifteen languages, including English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish and Hebrew.  Two of her collections have appeared in the Netherlands: Mensen voor beginners [Human Beginners] (De Geus, 2000) and Splinter (De Geus, 2007).
Although Lipska is sometimes considered as part of the 'New Wave' group of the 1970s, she distances herself from such associations, preferring to operate autonomously.  Over the years, her mistrust of the language of her daily surroundings, for her a language of masks and lies, has grown.  In response, Lipska has developed an inverted language, which is confrontational and frequently ominous.  Her poems are lucid, and in few words, she puts forth her own reality with gentle irony.  Fascinated by human behaviour, she strips away the false meaning of words, proving that we’re still merely 'Human Beginners'.                       [Text © 2010 Ad van Rijsewijk]

Click HERE to read more poetry by EWA LIPSKA published on the website of international magazine Words Without Borders.

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POET OF THE MONTH #27: Adam Zagajewski
POET OF THE MONTH #3: Wislawa Szymborska
POET OF THE MONTH #9: Julian Tuwim

Thursday, 18 August 2016

THINK ABOUT IT #16: Louise Bogan

What we suffer, what we endure, what we muff, what we kill, what we miss, what we are guilty of, is done by us, as individuals, in private. –– I wanted to kill a few interns this morning, and I shall want to kill some nurses tonight, and I know that it is a lousy system that keeps the poor, indigent old from dying as they should…To hell with the crowd.  To hell with the meetings, and the public speeches.  Life and death occur, as they must, but they are all bound up with love and hatred, in the individual bosom, and it is a sin and a shame to try to organize or dictate them.

Letter to Rolfe Humphries [23 December 1936]

Click HERE to read a short post about What The Woman Lived: The Selected Letters of Louise Bogan 1920-1970 (1973) on the excellent 'forgotten literature' website Neglected Books.  LOUISE BOGAN (1897-1970) was an American poet whose work was admired by, among others, WH AUDEN.  She also served as Poetry Critic for The New York Times from 1921 until her retirement in 1969.

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THINK ABOUT IT #5: Simone de Beauvoir
THINK ABOUT IT #9: Liz Jensen
THINK ABOUT IT #13: Marlon Brando 

Thursday, 11 August 2016


The BASTARDUS AUSTRALIS in its native habitat

Oops, too late (again)…


has just passed legislation
that will ban the sport of
in the state of New South Wales
from July 2017

As always, my question is:   


No one can deny that the sport of greyhound racing, as it's been practised in New South Wales since first being legalised back in the 1930s, is cruel and barbaric and in urgent need of immediate, wide-ranging reform.  

A February 2015 exposé by the ABC's Four Corners program lifted the lid on a vicious and brutal industry in which the systematic torturing of small defenseless animals is considered 'necessary' and even desirable in order to sustain and enhance the performance of 'winning dogs.'  In the meantime, hundreds if not thousands of 'under-performing dogs' are destroyed each year so the balance between the number of race meetings held annually and the number of punters willing to bet money on them can be profitably maintained.  Dismantling and banning the greyhound industry appears, on paper at least, to be the justified and obvious response to such reprehensible behaviour.  The dogs will no longer be sacrificed in the name of money and the rabbits and piglets used as 'live bait' to 'train' them will no longer be torn to pieces after being tied to the rail with baling wire by men who clearly see nothing wrong in doing so.

But no one, especially MIKE BAIRD, has stopped to consider what banning the sport will do to those trainers who don't mistreat their dogs and don't indulge in the abominable practise of live baiting.

For many of these owners and trainers, greyhound racing is a way of life and also their primary source of income.  Outlawing it will make it necessary for them to relocate to a state, like Victoria or Queensland, where the sport is still legal if they wish to continue to breed and race their animals – something the vast majority of them will be unable to do for financial reasons.  The Government promises to compensate them for their loss but, as usual, the compensation offered represents a fraction of what they could earn were the industry to be properly monitored and allowed to continue under the supervision of an independent organisation granted the power to take immediate punitive action against non-compliant owners, trainers and race meeting organisers.  As sports lawyer DARREN KANE suggested in a recent article published in The Sydney Morning Herald [15 July 2016] there were (and remain) some untried and potentially workable alternatives to banning the sport outright:  

'…the balanced stance might be to shut it down for two years from July 2017, and then prohibit all forms of wagering…for a period of five years after its controlled reintroduction in mid-2019.  Insulated from the nefarious influences that gambling pulls into the sport's orbit, perhaps a natural equilibrium would be reached in terms of the number of greyhounds bred; the number of race meetings held; and the demand for the "sport".' 

Yet MIKE BAIRD still preferred to outlaw it, rushing the legislation through Parliament in what was almost record time as though he was trying to pass anti-terrorism laws or pushing to expand the WESTCONNEX road project that will destroy large swathes of urban Sydney while making it impossible to travel from one part of the city to another without paying his Government and its contractors a series of expensive tolls for the privilege of doing so.  

So, the question that must be asked here is:

Why ban the sport 
instead of fixing it?

The BASTARDUS AUSTRALIS displaying its natural superiority in every situation

There's an answer to this and, as the best politically-motivated answers are, it's very simpleBanning what the public believes to be a bloodthirsty and inhumane sport run by bloodthirsty and inhumane criminals is certain to earn THE PREMIER FROM HELL lots of votes from relieved and grateful animal lovers come the next election.   

By showing the suckers…er, I mean, the people of New South Wales how much he allegedly 'cares' about animals, MIKE BAIRD hopes to repair the damage being done to his reputation (and to that of his party) by implementing pro-mining and pro-deforestation policies which threaten to destroy our natural environment (including but not limited to lots of native bird, koala and quoll habitat), supporting reckless, greed-driven over-development and maintaining the unpopular lock-out laws which have destroyed Sydney's nightlife and made a joke of his own Government's long-standing plan to transform it into an 'international city.'

If MIKE BAIRD really cares so much about saving defenseless and exploited animals, why doesn't he stop pushing for laws to cut down old growth forest and go ahead and ban the equally cruel sport of HORSE RACING?

Again, the answer is simple:

Rich people own 90% of the land in Australia and lots of them simply adore the sport of Horse Racing!  

In fact, many of them – like his pal JAMES PACKER – own fabulous country estates which are home to thoroughbred racehorses worth millions if not billions of dollars.  They also enjoy being photographed at Sydney's Randwick and Rose Hill Racecourses on Carnival Days wearing morning suits and stupid hats while they sip French champagne and stuff their smug, tax-avoiding faces with smoked salmon and caviar.

Those who enjoy greyhound racing, on the other hand, tend to be low income-earning working class people who clearly have no civil rights and no say in how their state or  the sport it should always be their choice to participate in is run, leaving it to THE PREMIER FROM HELL to shut down the entire naughty industry to teach them a lesson like the good little Christian Fascist sociopath demagogue he is.


MIKE BAIRD's decision to ban greyhound racing has NOTHING to do with saving greyhounds and EVERYTHING to do with making him popular with animal-loving voters!

How many horses fall during races each year and have to be destroyed?  How many turn lame and become a financial liability to their owners, who see no reason to continue paying expensive stable fees for animals who have no chance of gaining them entry to the coveted winner's circle?  When has any thoroughbred horse, including a trotter, ever been treated as anything more than four-legged money-making machine whose sole function in life is to make their owners and trainers rich by winning ever larger purses both here and in the lucrative Asian racing marketHorse racing is allegedly the sport of kings, but greyhound racing is apparently the sport of peasants, making it the ideal pastime to demonize and outlaw. 

What do you think will happen to the thousands of greyhounds for whom good homes will never be found because housing all of them is not (and never has been) a practical option?  The ugly truth is they'll be exterminated.  Humanely, yes, even regrettably, but exterminated nonetheless because MIKE BAIRD believes it's his job, if not his God-given mandate, to control every aspect of life in New South Wales whether we, the people, want him to or not.

If the THE PREMIER FROM HELL was not a total hypocrite, he'd follow this argument to its logical conclusion and ban soccer the next time a player breaks a leg or rugby union the next time a scrum collapses and the sixteen year old boy unlucky enough to be trapped at the bottom of it is left a quadriplegic.  But that would cost his Government money and see him take a beating in the opinion polls which, as every citizen of Bairdland knows, is still and always will be #1 on his list of things to be avoided.


He's a smiling assassin
who has destroyed New South Wales
and will do whatever he decides
is necessary to retain power
so his friends in the MINING, AGRIBUSINESS 
and DEVELOPMENT sectors
can turn this state into a wasteland
while they sit back and count their profits

Use this link to tell THE PREMIER FROM HELL to end his greed-driven, developer-funded destruction of New South Wales, its struggling grassroots industries, its irreplaceable natural resources and threatened wildlife habitats.  You can also visit and leave comments on his PARLIAMENTARY WEBSITE.

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Thursday, 4 August 2016

WRITERS ON WRITING #84: Edith Wharton

None of my relations ever spoke to me of my books, either to praise or to blame – they simply ignored them; and among the immense tribe of my New York cousins, though it included many with whom I was on terms of affectionate intimacy, the subject was avoided as though it were a kind of family disgrace, which might be condoned but could not be forgotten.  Only one eccentric widowed cousin, living a life of lonely invalidism, turned to my novels for occasional distraction, and had the courage to tell me so.
  At first I felt this indifference acutely; but now I no longer cared, for my recognition as a writer had transformed my life.  I had made my own friends, and my books were beginning to serve as an introduction to my fellow writers.  But it was amusing to think that, whereas in London even my modest achievements would have opened many doors, in my native New York they were felt only as a drawback and an embarrassment.

A Backward Glance (1934)

Click HERE to visit the website of THE EDITH WHARTON SOCIETYThere are many biographies of EDITH WHARTON currently available, the most recent of which was written by HERMIONE LEE and published by Alfred A Knopf (US) and Chatto & Windus (UK) in 2007.

Special thanks to Rhonda Thwaite for sending me this quote.

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EDITH WHARTON Ethan Frome (1911)

Thursday, 28 July 2016

THINK ABOUT IT #15: Noam Chomsky

If you care about other people, that's now a very dangerous idea.  If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority.  That's not going to happen if you care only about yourself.  Maybe you can become rich, but you don't care whether other people's kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that's called 'libertarian' for some wild reason.  I mean, it's actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.
  That's why unions had the slogan, 'solidarity,' even though they may not have lived up to it.  And that's what really counts:  solidarity, mutual aid, care for one another and so on.  And it's really important for power systems to undermine that ideologically, so huge efforts go into it.  Even trying to stimulate consumerism is an effort to undermine it.  Having a market society automatically carries with it an undermining of solidarity.  For example, in the market system you have a choice:  You can buy a Toyota or you can buy a Ford, but you can't buy a subway because that's not offered.  Market systems don't offer common goods; they offer private consumption.  If you want a subway, you're going to have to get together with other people and make a collective decision.  Otherwise, it's simply not an option within the market system, and as democracy is increasingly undermined, it's less and less of an option within the public system.  All of these things converge, and they're all part of general class war.

Interview by CHRIS STEELE [Salon, 1 December 2013]

Click HERE to read the full interview with NOAM CHOMSKY conducted by CHRIS STEELE and published on the Salon website.  To visit the website of US linguist, philosopher, political activist, social commentator and writer NOAM CHOMSKY, please click HERE.

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THINK ABOUT IT #2: C Wright Mills
THINK ABOUT IT #10: Rollo May

Thursday, 21 July 2016

POET OF THE MONTH #37: Bernice Kenyon

Charles Scribner's Sons US, 1951


Since there is not, for you and me,
One instant of tranquility,
But always beating in the throat
Such clamor and such high confusion ––
Let us preserve the mind remote,
And build our silence of illusion.

Think for a little of those shining
Worlds where no man has set his foot:
Where dark and daylight have no meaning ––
Only as distance; where no root
Of deep disaster strikes and holds;
Where only wonderment unfolds.

Then you will find, most certainly,
That all you sought was fantasy.
The stream of life runs loud and wide,
Bearing us toward infinity.
How shall we learn to know –– to ride
The noise of this our destiny?
Here rest a moment –– rest you here,
Where your own thoughts are still and clear.

Night Sky (1951)

The Poet:  The following 1982 obituary appears on the website of The New York Times.  [It is re-posted here for information purposes only and, like the material posted above, remains its author's exclusive copyright-protected intellectual property.]

Bernice Lesbia Kenyon Gilkyson, a poet and a former story editor and editorial assistant at Charles Scribner's Sons, died Wednesday at Winsted (Connecticut) Memorial Hospital.

She was 84 years old and lived in New Hartford, Connecticut.

Mrs Gilkyson, who wrote under the name of Bernice Kenyon, was considered one of America's most important young female poets in the 1920's and 1930's and was ranked with Louise Bogan, Edna St Vincent Millay and Elinor Wylie.

Her first volume, Songs of Unrest, was published by Scribner's in 1923.  Her two other published works were Meridian, which appeared in 1933, and Night Sky in 1951. In 1950, she shared a National Book Award with Robert Frost.

Mrs Gilkyson also wrote the libretto for the opera Landara, composed by her friend Efrem Zimbalist, which had its premiere in Philadelphia in 1956. She had completed her fourth volume, Mortal Music, shortly before her death

Born in Oakside, Long Island, Mrs Gilkyson graduated from Wellesley College and went to work at the old Scribner's Magazine as a story editor.  She became an editorial assistant to Maxwell Perkins in the Scribner's book division, working with such authors as Ernest Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald.

With her husband, T. Walter Gilkyson, a lawyer and novelist, Mrs. Gilkyson lived in Italy for two years, returning in 1930 and traveling before moving to New Hartford.

Her husband died in 1969; there are no survivors.

Click HERE to read a fascinating post about forgotten poet BERNICE KENYON on the Neglected Books website.  You can also click HERE to read a little more about BERNICE KENYON at The Greenwich Village Bookshop Door: A Portal to Bohemia 1920-1925, an online exhibition administered by the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

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POET OF THE MONTH #35: Edna St Vincent Millay
POET OF THE MONTH #32: Jennifer Denrow 
POET OF THE MONTH #22: Fay Zwicky

Thursday, 14 July 2016

WRITERS ON WRITING #83: F Scott Fitzgerald

Nobody ever became a writer just by wanting to be one.  If you have anything to say, anything you feel nobody has ever said before, you have got to feel it so desperately that you will find some way to say it that nobody has ever found before, so that the thing you have to say and the way of saying it blend as one matter as indissolubly as if they were conceived together…It is an awfully lonesome business, and as you know, I never wanted you to go into it, but if you are going into it at all I want you to go into it knowing the sort of things that took me years to learn.

Letter to Scottie Fitzgerald [his daughter] (20 October 1936)

Click HERE to read more about the life and work of American novelist FRANCIS SCOTT KEY FITZGERALD.  You can also click HERE to read another piece of sound advice he gave to his daughter SCOTTIE, posted on the excellent Wordpress blog Routine Matters.

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WRITERS ON WRITING #22: George Orwell