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Buy the Grapple Annual No. 1

The first Grapple Annual was officially launched at the National Young Writers Festival in Newcastle earlier this month. You can buy it now from their website.

The book contains my poem THE LAST NIGHT OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY’S LIFE along with a host of other great poems and short stories, and the whole package ‘feels good’ as the kids would say; ‘has a nice texture’. So if you like ‘art and/or literature’ or have a lot of money (or both) you should buy one. They’re only $20.

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Greetings from the Camel Saloon

One of my photographs (from a few years back) has been featured on the “postcards” section of Camel Saloon, a literary tavern for “dromedaries, malcontents and jewels in the world.” Check it out and leave a comment at the the link below. Also keep an eye on the Saloon for some of my poems appearing soon.

Johanna Beach, Victoria

http://camelsaloonpostcards.blogspot.com.au

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Mark Niehus – Poet & Artist

I’ve just written up a bio for my good friend and great poet Mark Niehus. He’s been doing some exciting things with art and words recently and has a new book due to be released soon. Read all about it and check out his website below . . .

Mark Niehus is a poet who anchors words on the exploration of self, but not just his own. “We are all born / and thrown against this world,” declares the opening poem of his first book. “And everything is  normal to someone, / something you hate / someone loves. / Something you disbelieve / someone would die for. / The ugly is beautiful, / the feared are faithful / and nothing is something / to someone / somewhere.” Conversation and discovery are the basis of Mark’s approach to experience in art, poetry and life; moving at the heart of things with a thought, an image; the right question asked, in something like the right way, over drinks at that bar you know.

Read more

The Individual

www.markniehus.com

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Gillard v Abbott v misogyny v sexism v all-the-other-crap

Might not get a chance to expand on this further in the near future, so here goes:

Noticed on The Drum tonight that we’re still going on about the whole Gillard v Abbott smack down parliament speech and misogyny v sexism v changing word definitions v all-the-other-culture-war-crap-that-is-really-important-but-hardly-anyone-ever-actually-understands-in-full-complexity.

They played a clip of Kevin Rudd suggesting that people saying he’d ghost written Maxine McKews’s new book were engaging in sexism, Judith Sloan went off in one of her savvy conservative obfuscations about the (unimpressive) impact of Gillard’s speech and reiterated that”misogyny” does and should only mean “hatred of women” and, therefore, was totally out of line being applied to Abbott. Lord Jesus and the Holy Father people, I can’t take it any more!

  • Yes, words can alter their meaning over time and misogyny is not exempt. As social understanding of embedded prejudice (as opposed to more direct hate-speech or discrimination) evolves, it makes sense we should refine meanings to reflect this new understanding.
  • Gillard’s speech can and should be appreciated for its innate value and the more general points it made (with force and eloquence) about the continuing prejudice many women still face in today’s society. Nobody seems to be arguing that it wasn’t a brilliant and rhetorically convincing piece of oratory and parliamentary theatre. But its inherent appeal to many women (and men) both here and overseas should not be discounted or ignored either.
  • BUT this DOES NOT mean that its context is not relevant! Nor do 3 million views on YouTube and however many re-tweets necessarily reflect a broad consensus on the meaning or value of a public event. There are plenty of people who aren’t on social media, who are more conservative and would not have appreciated either the tone, the content or the context of Gillard’s speech, male and females alike. The reason so many overseas blogs and news sites ran more appreciative commentary on the speech than our local press is simply: those people aren’t in touch with the context of Australian politics. They were taking the video completely devoid of its local situation and were, thus, only commenting on its abstract qualities as social rhetoric and effective oratory.
  • While the meaning of words can certainly alter over time, one still has to be aware of what their established meaning is when and in what context they are used. While “ misogyny” may already have evolved its meaning for many in the community, I assure you that Gillard’s intention by using that word (particularly in conjunction with “sexism” – implying a differing, more serious meaning by the very nature of her usage) was to brand and tar Abbott with a particularly virulent rhetorical label. The genuine emotion and force of her speech (coming on the heels of Abbott’s outlandish Alan Jones echo) notwithstanding, Gillard made deliberate use of the word “misogyny” in order to imply and deploy its more severe, pathological meaning as “hatred of women”. Now that may very well be justifiable in the circumstances, but friends & fellows on the activist left: please don’t pretend that she/Gillard used the word devoid of thought about its – previous – meaning.

Finally, while I know that many conservative hard-jobs often go on about things like this just to distract from the real issues … how exactly do we differentiate between legitimate criticism and sexist/gendered insults? Overuse of gendered personal pro nouns and turning one’s back on your parliamentary opponent certainly don’t seem to have a gendered monopoly at this point … and with focus-group disciple Kevin Rudd breaking out the misogyny card, I’m concerned for the future of meaningful distinctions.

Ah, good, now that’s over with, I trust we’ll all go back to arguing our progressive social visions and standing up for what’s right, decent, equitable and fair with respect, eloquence, reason and logical public discourse, right?

Right?

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The Fractured Ones

My poem ‘The Fractured Ones‘ is featured in this month’s issue of the long-running Internet lit-zine Red Fez. Please check it out along with some of the other great underground poetry and prose you’ll find at www.redfez.net

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Kate Ellis, Q&A, and the Buffoonery of Public Discourse

Australia’s enthusiastic community of political commentators (both amateur and professional) erupted tonight on Twitter, over the apparent mistreatment of MP Kate Ellis on the ABC’s panel discussion program Q&A. A majority of comments either directly alleged, or strongly implied, that sexism was motivating the panel’s three men to excessively interrupt Ellis because she is a woman. Host Tony Jones got dragged into the dock for apparently failing to moderate debate effectively, again with an implication of gender bias.

Commentary on the actual, substantive issues being discussed (however rudely or rowdily) was replaced by immediate accusations of misogyny. This linked conveniently with the recent downfall of right-wing shock-jock Alan Jones over his indisputably outrageous comments about Prime Minister Gillard’s father having “died of shame”. In a scintillating play on the irrelevant coincidence of their names, some on social media even suggested that Tony and Alan, our two Mr Joneses, were “beginning to fuse into the same … horrible little men”.

While I certainly agree that we could use far more civility and respect in public discourse, the question of what motivates rudeness or “buffoonery” (as Clementine Ford dubbed it) in any given case is much trickier. Words like “sexism” and “misogyny” are laden with implications and should not be used lightly. This isn’t to say we should abandon discussions about whether-or-not and to-what-extent sexism (and other forms of bigotry) still exist in our society. Of course they do, and not only in overt ways. There may very well have been elements of misogyny present on the Q&A panel – certainly Piers Ackerman has some very strange and badly argued views about a whole range of issues and individuals, so why should women be any different?

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And he sailed off through night and day…

Maurice Sendak, Children’s Author, Dies at 83

Something we’ll get to. But first indulge me, for just a few moments.

On this, Australia’s budget night, I was going to write about the eternally shallow outlook of People, that great unreflective, capitalised majority for whom the Roman name rings most appropriate: Plebeians.

I was going to write something about Mark Bouris: Businessman – the only engaging member of this week’s Q&A panel (but thanks for lowering the bar, Kate Miller-Heidke).

With his eloquent tone, economic credentials, salt ‘n’ pepper hair and commitment to making sense, Bouris seems better suited to running for U.S. President (or at least Australian treasurer in a Malcolm Turnbull government) than propping up underwhelming political discussions on ABC-TV.

I was going to write about his politely veiled comments on the pointlessness of ascribing intelligent, rational motivation to what the plebs might think regarding government budgets:

I don’t think the electorate really understands the difference between surpluses and deficits for a start. I don’t really think the electorate understands all the various assumptions and inputs that go into building a budget and therefore I don’t think it’s going to make much difference. I think what the electorate wants to know is what I’m going to get out of the budget.

Polite because, of course, it’s perfectly reasonable to be concerned, on one level, with your individual circumstances or that of your family. But while the electorate doesn’t really understand the difference between surplus and deficit or, for example, the actual purpose and workings of a carbon tax, they seem more than happy to alter their votes according to whatever hyperbolic narrative (regarding these and other policy issues) best suits the opposition.

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