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Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Release: Wolf Carstens (poetry)/ Janne Karlsson (artwork) ONLY THE DEAD. Latvia, Svensk Apache Press, 2015 (36 pages)

This short graphic poetry chapbook aptly sums up Canadian Wolf Carstens' take on existence as represented in his earlier poetry.

The chap consists of two sections. The first ironically contrasts  the trivial complaints of the living with the dead’s gratitude & celebration of life “above blades of grass.”

The second section is a direct appeal to the reader to wake up to themselves & to realize we are here only for a short time & to live life to the fullest.

The Swedish artist Janne Karlsson has been collaborating with Carstens for a few projects now and their words & images thoroughly complement each other in this collection.

Despite its low $7 price tag this is a quality book. The cover has a smooth tactile feel to it and the illustrations are sharp and well positioned on the page.

To buy ONLY THE DEAD follow this link:

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Featuring Donal Mahoney

World Cup

The ISIS Brit
tall in the desert

blade by his side
talks to the camera

severs the head 
of the orange infidel

kneeling beside him 
kicks the head

across the sand
while the world 

has a beer
in its coliseum

deaf to Satan
shouting “Goal!”

A Matter of Business 

Every day at noon
when church bells peal
Rufus stops counting his money
gets up from his roll-top desk
lights a Cuban cigar
pours a glass of fine wine
and looks out his garret window

hoping to see Martha 
his neighbor dead in the snow
dropped by a heart attack 
or maybe black ice.
Either will do.
Too old to shovel the walk
she can’t afford to have it done.

Rufus never thought Martha
would live this long.
When she finally dies 
the property reverts to him
the result of a deal he cut
with her dead husband Mort
years ago when the couple 

needed his money and Rufus
figured they’d die in no time.
Mort was quick to cooperate
but Martha has been a turtle.
Twice now Rufus has lost
good buyers for the place 
rehabbers think is worth fixing.

Rufus doesn’t agree 
but he’ll sell the place in seconds
to anyone who offers the money.
For now, when church bells peal
Rufus lights a cigar, drinks wine,
looks out the window and thinks,
Hurry up Martha and die.

A Night in Morocco

Middle of the night he flies out of bed
to the commode only to wonder 
in the dim light minutes later
if that's blood or simply a good-bye
from his wife’s stewed tomatoes,
a Moroccan dish she found on the web.

When he asked for a third serving
he pronounced them delicious.
So too, he said, was her dessert,
the Moroccan plum mousse
with the dark plums he likes.
Even with the ceiling light on 

he doesn’t know now what he sees 
so with his medical history he's 
speeding at midnight to the ER
where the doctor says better safe 
than sorry and orders a fast
colonoscopy to solve the mystery.

When he finally gets home, he tells
his wife when her boss comes over
for that big dinner Saturday night,
why not make Moroccan tomatoes 
and her magnificent plum mousse.
He may never forget either. 

Donal Mahoney

Nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had work published in various publications in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Born and reared in Chicago, he’d probably be in Ireland if the English hadn’t sent his father abroad after he served time for running guns for the IRA. Some of his earliest work can be found at:

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Mark Brandon Read CHOPPER 5: Don’t Go Breaking My Legs. John Blake Publishing, London, 2006 (214 pages).

On Read’s death about a year ago, I provided some links to his work & life on BM: A few days ago underneath Central Station in Sydney, I saw one of Chopper Read’s books in a bargain bin and finally decided to read his shit.  CHOPPER 5, a British publication, is Read’s ninth book and appears to have been written in 1999 after his release from Risdon Prison. He describes briefly his upcoming film loosely based on his life Chopper (2000) and the birth of his first child Charlie- but his main focus usually returns to his recollections & involvement in the Melbourne underworld, particularly in the 1970s.

Read’s first book Chopper: From the Inside (1991) was hugely successful and is reported to have sold more than 100,000 copies. According to Amazon, Read has published fourteen other crime books which are all still in print. I can't imagine there are too many pending PhD theses on the craft of Mark Brandon Read’s writing. I thought I might take this opportunity to toss your way my two cents worth & critically evaluate the writing phenomenon that is CHOPPER, using CHOPPER 5 to spur some analysis on the psycho. Why is Read’s writing so appealing to his fans? Why is it so appalling to others?


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

AFTER THE BOMB: GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK: The Screenplay and History Behind the Landmark Movie. Newport Press, New York, 2006 (208 pages).

If you are studying George Clooney’s 2005 film this book is essential reading!

The best and most informative article in the collection has to be the Q & A section in which George Clooney & Grant Heslov are questioned by the writer Rod Feld (pp. 77-98). You discover the essence of their art through a transparent discussion of their manipulation of context & style.

The best equivalent interview online is to be found here. It features an important discussion with George Clooney &  David Straithern who plays Murrow:

George Clooney On the Life & Career of Edward R. Murrow: Goodnight and Good Luck. Clooney addresses RTNDA in 2005: (49:31)

Also highly valuable in this book are the articles ‘Murrow vs. McCarthy: See It Now', by Joseph Wershba & ‘Journalism and McCarthyism’ by Rich Kaplan which clearly establish the historical, political and cultural context of the film.

The script of the film which appears in the book is dated March 2, 2005 PRODUCTION DRAFT. Online you can find an earlier Production Draft 20 October 2004 here:

If you have the time check this related Cold War doco out: Point of Order (1964): Documentary film of the 1954 Army-McCarthy hearings by Emile de Antonio:

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Recommended Photography Book: Ray Collins Found At Sea (2014)

I attended Ray Collins’ book launch at Ryan’s Hotel in Thirroul on Friday 12 December. He is a brilliant local ocean photographer who transforms variable sea conditions into extraordinary visual sculptures. Although originally a surf photographer, Collins has evolved into a serious visual artist. I enjoyed the night: no speeches- a cool but innocuous DJ out the back & a nice roll out of quality grub- & the affable Ray happily signing many boxes of books & copies of his impressive prints.

Found At Sea is packed with hundreds of sparkingly sharp images. Roughly about half of the still photos are surfboard related  and the rest- to me more spectacular- of the jagged, wild contours of the sea.

Collins is clear and sparse in his commentary. He establishes for the reader the specific context of most shots, but thankfully, he provides no grand statement of his artist intent. Near the end of the book Collins says that while shooting the mad Pipeline waves in Hawaii from the water in February 2008, he realised “that I wanted to shoot empty waves.” Find the Pipeline photo here:


Find Ray Collins' website here:

Have a look at this excellent video of Ray at work from his site: