Thursday, September 30, 2004

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 13

There is a feeling of familiarity when you sometimes venture out into a new place, a similar feeling to that you get when you enter a secondhand book shop & know that the book you've been looking for for ages will be found here. Allegrezza got none of this with Tabriz.

He'd gone straight to the hotel & sleep when he arrived, decided in the morning to have a look around, pick up the feel for the place, before he started searching for any information about his ancestor.

He played the tourist. Went out to look at the Talkheh Rood, the Bitter River, where it flowed past the north of the city on its way to Orumiyeh Lake, thought of the earliest maps, where the known world was an island around which ran the Adjai-Tchai, also called the Bitter River. He worked his way back into the city, along the Mehran Rood, the Sweet River, now a playground for children & a parking lot for cars because the only flow ever in it was sewerage or industrial waste.

Tabriz used to be a great cultural centre, a major stopping point on the Silk Road, one of several places that had at various times been known as The Dome of Islam. Taken without bloodshed by the Mongols in the 13th century C.E. it had thrived. It was where the Ambassadors from Venice were received. The Blue Mosque – the Jewel of Islam – was built. Several of the greatest religious schools of the period had been established here. Now of the schools only the towers of the Shanb Gazan survive.

Tabriz had come apart during the war between the Safavid Dynasty & the Ottoman Empire in the 17th century. The artists & many of the carpetmakers fled to Isfahan, the only poets left were those buried in the Poets' Cemetery. It became a city modified by each successive modern era.

It had been the capital of Persia during the Qajar dynasty. The Constitutional Movement was born here in the 19th century, revitalised again in the first decade of the 20th when it had succeeded in forcing the creation of an elected parliament despite the execution of two of its leaders. The first modern school was founded in Tabriz. The first printing hall, the first theatre, the first periodical, the first municipality, all were established in Tabriz. The first Town Hall in Iran was built here, designed to resemble "an eagle with widespread wings". What was perhaps the major demonstration that led to the exile of the Shah & the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini had taken place here in 1978.

But modification & modernity at a price. The best carpets are no longer to be found here. The market has been reduced to a fraction of its former size & its infinite variety.The Poets' Cemetery has been built over with apartment blocks & shopping malls, the graves replaced with markers & a monument erected in 1976. Only the death of Shahryar, author of the famed "Haydar Babaya Sallam", in 1988 & the subsequent creation of a small park around the monument to celebrate his life & writings have a left a whisper of the former glory.

Allegrezza left a small poem in the visitors' book & returned to his hotel. He knew before he even started looking that his quest would have no joy here. But he would look anyway.

He set out for the University in the morning, to start at the library there & see if it led him anywhere. All he could find in the catalogues on Hassan-i-Sabbah under any of the variant spellings were encyclopaedia entries.

He went across to the librarian, to ask him if there was any more material, was told that what was in the catalogues was probably it, but there were some uncatalogued secular manuscripts in the cupboards on the next floor up & there might be something in those.

It was there that the police found him fifteen minutes later. He was asked to come with them, was informed that the reason for his detainment would be explained at the station. Allegrezza went with them; there seemed little choice.

"Why are you looking for hashish?" he was asked in the interview room.

"I'm not."

"Then are you looking to sell it? To corrupt Iranian youth with your western wickedness?"

"I'm not trying to do either. I'm looking for information on Hassan-i-Sabbah. Surely you must have heard of him?"

The policeman laughed. "So it's the secret gardens of The Old Man of the Mountains that you're looking for."

Allegrezza began to protest but the policeman held up his hand to stop him. "The West seems to have lost its ability to embrace martyrdom. It cannot accept that we Moslems regard it as a holy act but instead now believes that people must be" – he broke off, searching for a word, seemed to find no other than the English term – "'stoned' before they can do it. You have so much to learn.You're probably not a criminal but you are rather foolish. I'm going to let you go, but your name's going into our files immediately. Take this as a warning."

Allegrezza flew out to Tehran that afternoon. Shaken, debating whether to stay in Iran, deciding to have one last shot at finding something. Perhaps there was more chance in the capital.

Next morning he went to the State Library, registered as a researcher, went off to look through the catalogues. Twenty minutes later the police arrived.

"So, the hashish searcher of Tabriz has come to Tehran. Please accompany us."

It was a similar sceptical interrogation to the day before's, but this time Allegrezza was a bit more forthcoming, explaining about his search for information about his ancestor, about the connection with Hassan. He was dismissed after an hour, told to remain at his hotel while they decided what to do.

That evening there was a knock at his door. He opened it to find two men standing there, one a mullah, the other in a dark suit that appeared to be of good Italian manufacture. They produced identity cards. They were members of the Religious Police, what was, essentially, the Secret Police.

The questioning began again, with only the cleric doing the asking. Allegrezza explained his reasons for being in Iran, explained them again, denied looking to buy or sell hashish. Was warned that his behaviour was bordering on the anti-religious, was antisocial, may even be considered criminal. Finally, after his credentials had been examined again, the two men got up to go.

The suit spoke for the first time, told the Mullah to go & get the lift, that he needed to have a piss before he left. Then, when the Mullah had gone, he turned to Allegrezza.

"I will check if there is truth in your story. If there is then I will help you. Otherwise....."

Allegrezza looked at him, puzzled. "How can you check the historical truth?"

The suit smiled, somewhat coldly. "I have access to the original records. I am a follower of Hassan. I am an Assassin. If what you have told me is true I will come for you tomorrow. If not, then you will never know when I am coming."

Previous Part / Next Part

As-best-os or As-worst-os

Mesothelioma is inevitably fatal. It is a disease that takes a long time to develop, 20, 30, 40 years. It is solely attributable to exposure to asbestos. It affects not just the miners of & the workers in asbestos but their partners – through exposure to clothing that carries particles or fibres – those who have lived near mines or asbestos-related industries & those who have been exposed to products such as cement/asbestos building products that have become damaged or have started to break down.

The building products that used it were relatively cheap so its use in schools, other public buildings, for roofs & fences or as insulation in private homes was quite widespread. Its dangers have been known for 70-80 years, but have only been widely publicised in the last two decades as people began to die or, perhaps more precisely, the cause of a number of deaths became known & people began to take legal action against companies that had either lied to them or failed to provide adequate protection for their workers. The similarities with the lies of the tobacco manufacturers are obvious.

James Hardie was an Australian company that both mined & used asbestos in its building products. It created a trust fund in the early 90s, a few hundred million dollars, which it stated would be adequate to meet all future claims against it. But apparently its actuaries knew differently for almost overnight Hardie moved itself offshore to The Netherlands & set up a separate parent company that it believed would protect it from future litigation.
Although the dangers of asbestos were known as far back as the 1930s, Hardie continued to manufacture asbestos products until the mid-'80s. While rival manufacturer CSR capitulated to legal and public pressure in the '90s and opted to meet victims' claims as they arose, Hardie pursued a different route.
In early 2001, it hived off its asbestos liabilities into a foundation, the MRCF. Hardie funded the MRCF with $293 million.
However, in the past three years these asbestos liabilities ballooned by more than $1 billion, leaving the MRCF with a funding shortfall of $800 million.
Meanwhile, James Hardie and its lawyers Allens, through a bewilderingly complex series of corporate transactions, shifted the Hardie head office to the Netherlands and then claimed the company had no lingering exposure to the problem. It bamboozled the media and the stock market in the process
Corporate greed or conscience-lessness or protecting the interests of its shareholders? Or criminal deceit? That it is the subject of an enquiry currently going on. & the liabilities are now estimated to be closer to $2 billion.

I caught part of a tv documentary last night shown on the ABC (not the U.S. corporation but Australia's public broadcaster) on asbestos in Canada. A news item on the same subject.
Ottawa, March 25 -- Canada is starting work this summer on a billion dollar project to renovate its parliamentary buildings and cleanse them of asbestos, which has been found to cause cancer.
The project will take six years to complete but, in the meantime, Canadian government agents are still pushing exports of the fibre. Canada even has gone so far as to argue a challenge at the World Trade Organization that a proposed French ban on asbestos imports would be an illegal trade practice.
Despite recent warnings that asbestos was the cause of 500,000 cancer victims in western Europe alone, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell their fibre worldwide - especially to developing nations.
Simply put, commercial interests, with the support & protection of both the Canadian & the Quebec Provincial Legislature, are continuing to export asbestos fibre with minimal hazard warnings knowing it will be used in workplaces where protection is almost non-existant. After all, what are a few deaths in the under-developed countries when it comes to protecting the dubious economic benefits of a few Canadian companies with a disproportionate amount of political clout?

A couple of other sites that give some more information:

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Ruby Street

Maybe it's the focus of her temporary role as carer / nurse. Maybe it's because it's keeping her at home. Maybe it's the (southern hemisphere) spring thrusting through. Maybe it's just the rain in Sydney. Maybe......

Whatever the maybes, Jill Jones is posting some wonderful stuff at Ruby Street. Including another in her hay(na)ku series series Impermanent Tenses.

Check the site out!!!! Now!

Monday, September 27, 2004

a nonlinear hay(na)ku for Jukka

see clearly
what is hidden.


Divine meaning a prescient reliance on yardstick. Divine meaning I can recognize the infinite even in his Kabuki make-up, even reeling. Moved by terror and by systems that might, at a breath, eliminate them, the hymns rise up to dance in the fish—they dance like the poor. Starved is not the same as poor. Starved cannot ever achieve the requisite disinterest.
from Kirsten Kaschock's another.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Sunday archive

Poem for a Bohemian Funeral

The women all look like Sarah Bernhardt,
& as for the beautiful young men... Well!

Peter Varley, at James Clarke’s funeral.

They come in sad lines. The
young men whose blond hair cradles
fingered dreams
                          & the old, the
unmannered fathers, who are
spindle-shanked & grouchy, with
tired mouths. Whispering amongst
themselves - words drift like
stepping stones, slow & ponderous,
heavy with nostalgia.

They come in sad lines & sit
the same way. Forming two bodies,
restless, like lovers who must,
after this, separate.

For this is the end of some
shared gift of life, but only the
young can know it. The old
are dying; one is / already dead

Whom the young worshipped &
                          fought over
Who provoked poems, songs,
Whom the old hated, but have all
                          come, wondering
Who will take his place.


Saturday, September 25, 2004


Jim Ryals' The Lawyer Novelist. Also a poet, a self-confessed dinosaur, & an eloquent spokesperson on the difficulties - tempered with joy - of raising children with disabilities.

sumer is icumen in

Even though it is still only September, the smell of bushfires is in the air, the smoke haze creeps up from the horizon like a slowly-closing dome. Some of it comes from backburning, but there are also sure to be those fires started by someone stupid enough to throw a cigarette butt from a car window or by the odd act of arson.

They're not as bad as the fires we experienced in Sydney a couple of years ago, when burnt leaves drifted ten kilometres to fall on our lawn, where around tv news times there would be a procession of helicopters passing overhead on their way to catch their fifteen seconds of flame, where the orange ball of the sun would appear on our floor caused by the extremely thick haze creating some sort of camera obscura.

It hasn't rained for a long time. There is even less water in the lagoons than when I last wrote about it three or so months ago. The small lagoon on the main road just before it leaves the city is totally dried up although the birds remain because people still stop there & feed them. Much of the lagoon in the Botanical Gardens has dried up, although ironically there is now lush green grass that has sprung up in some parts sparked by the moisture that still remains. The Yeppen Yeppen lagoon close to our house still has water, but there are only a couple of pelicans, some ducks & some herons taking advantage of it. Most of the birds seem have to headed for the Woolwash lagoon, a few kilometres south, usually the haunt of the black swans but now they have been joined by several hundred small black shags & a hundred or so pelicans.

So dry. & the land seems to have little slope to it. But if you drive the road that traces a semicircle about five kilometres outside the city there are floodways that are 600 metres wide.

A correction, an apology

In my earlier posting on the European "discovery" of Australia, I had a whimsical caveat that linked the discovery of the Eridea map to the chronology of Jorge Luis Borges. My whimsy, whether deliberately or otherwise, led me to misread the paper The Eridea Map, 1602 & state that the map had been found in the National Library in Buenos Aires. It was, as the paper actually says, found in the National Library at Rio de Janiero.

Noel Peters, author of the paper, has emailed me to point out my error. I apologise for it. All I can say in my defense is that both libraries are branches of The Library of Babel, of which Borges writes "(it) contained all books". &, doubtless, all maps.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

harry k. stammer, painter

The paintings at harry k. stammer's eponymous blog are well worth a visit. I've seen some of his work before, at As/Is, but they seemed to be compressed there, whereas here they are viewable in their full 4" x 4" glory, with all their painterly qualities coming through.

Harry writes in an email that they're part of a continuing series of road/word paintings that he's been doing over the last ten years. I especially like the one posted on 9/14.

Also adding to the sidebar

Nicholas Downing's A New Broom because how could I resist a site that describes itself as having "poems, found poems, cut-ups, thinking outloud, sporadic hay(na)kus."

Electric verses (Säkhöiset säkeet) a contemporary Finnish poetry site with translations.

& a permanent link to Noel H. Peters' paper on the 1602 Eredia map where he puts forward the case that the first Europeans to discover Australia were the Portuguese, not the Dutch. The archival nature of blogs means that I can't keep my original posting about this in your face, but at least the link is there where it can catch the corner of your eye.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

A photo of Jukka!

at Tuli&Savu.

from paul simon's journal: a note on "the boxer"

trawled the blogs this afternoon but none of those who came on to me were pretty enough so i disconnected & watched rocky & garfunkel - oops - bullwinkle instead

Monday, September 20, 2004



s     e      c     t     i     o     n



Currently playing at Series Magritte

are The Companions of Fear.

Today's language

There is no language like the language of today.
& today's language is the most recent posts at Jean Vengua's The Nightjar.

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 12

The plane to Istanbul was full of workers returning to Turkey after their temporary visas had expired. The plane to Baku was half full of oil workers returning after some R & R, half full of Azerbaijani returning with duty-free shopping. The plane to Tabriz was almost empty, two Mullahs, & a Belgian ecologist who insisted on sitting next to Allegrezza.

The ecologist was part of a survey team employed by Petrofina but currently working for Total — "They’ll be the one company before too long" — identifying the best route for an oil pipeline from Baku to Tabriz where it could then join the existing pipelines to either the refineries of Tehran or the export port of Ceyhan on Turkey's Mediterranean coast. Iran, he explained, wanted to assert a measure of control over the oilfields of the Caspian.

"The Iranians lay claim to half the floor of the Caspian Sea, but if they progress this claim it will alienate the other littoral countries. So, since the embargo makes it extremely difficult for them to export their oil, what they're trying to do is not only provide a pipeline that is cheaper, & therefore more economically attractive, but by bringing foreign oil into Iran, refining it & using it for local consumption, they can then exchange an equal quantity of Iranian oil back to their neighbours who then re-export it as their own.

"The Americans want to build a pipeline across the floor of the Caspian, but the ecological implications of that are frightening so it'll never get the go-ahead. Just think, caviar in oil, crude oil. & to put a bit of a fright into those who are planning alternative routes, there are elements in Iran who are not above destabilising the regions around. It's Georgia now. Before long it'll be Chechnya, then Ingushetiya, then Ossetia. The Caucasus will be a bloodbath. Iran will look like a haven of stability.

"Ask the Mullahs up there," he said, nodding his head in their direction. "Publicly they will say that it is the light of the Book, the holy Koran, whose wisdom shines most brightly through the accumulated learning of generations of Iranian Shi'a scholars that brings the surrounding countries into Iran's sphere of influence. But when they are away from the mosques & unlikely to be overheard they will admit that the prospect of prosperity also helps. Where the oil flows the mind will follow."

Previous Part / Next Part

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Stuff Happens

Stuff Happens was Rumsfeld's comment on reports about looting etc. just after the invasion of Iraq. It's also the title of a play by David Hare that recently opened in London. A line from it that I saw quoted appeals to me immensely.
"How do we know he's got weapons of mass destruction?" says the Colin Powell character, talking about Saddam. "How do we know? Because we've still got the receipts."

the sunday archive

The Mexican Church

by a hundred billboards
arches its back
                      in the sunday heat.
In the square
the young girls stand in groups,
                      brown toes tickling
the bare earth.

Five armed men stand near them.
They are the priests who have left
the pew-wrinkled thighs of the church
                      in search
of younger meat.
                      Their sombreros
block out the sky,
are vulture shadows

In summer
pick the bodies of the young girls
                      & the bones
lie there whitely,
                      waiting for
their canonization.

1962 or '63

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Two Super-Hero Hay(na)kus

brightest day,
in darkest night

evil shall
escape my sight.

those who
worship Evil's might

my power -
Green Lantern's Light.


knows what
evil lurks within

hearts of
Men? The Shadow

Oh yes
he does now.

An old friend

henceforward to be known as Hoth - He of the heteronyms - has re-appeared from the hurricane-ravaged precincts of Panama City with a new blog, The Red Dragon & The Black Beast.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

A Hi (Nick) coup

If I'd
known you &

Schnoz were
out on the

would have rung

& made
up a foursome

we could
play around together.
I passed
my use-by date?

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The European "discovery" of Australia

In consequence, these same Endes and the Lamacheres Fishermen determined to repeat the voyage, and when they were all about to set out both the Endes and the Lamacheres were overtaken by a fear so great that they did not dare, owing to ignorance, to cross the Sea of Gold.

And it may well seem that the Almighty God desires to entrust this work to Manoel Godinho de Eredia, the Cosmographer, by Order of the most happy Lord Count Admiral, Viceroy of India intra- and extra-Ganges, that the said Eredia may be the instrument of effecting an increase in the new Patrimonies of the Crown of Portugal, and of enriching the said Lord Count and the Lusitanian Nation.

from: Report on the Golden Chersonese or Peninsula and on the Auriferous, Carbuncular and Aromatic Islands, drawn up by Manoel Godinho de Eredia, Cosmographer, 1597-1600. (Quoted by Martin Edmond)
There is some controversy over which European nation "discovered" Australia, the Dutch or the Portuguese. (Bear in mind that Australia had been discovered & settled 40-60,000 years earlier, probably overland, before tectonic drift & climate change made the world what it is today, what it was in the 15th & 16th centuries.)

The two names usually put forward are Cristovao de Mendonca & Willem Jansz or Janszoon. de Mendonca set out in 1521 or 1522 from the Portuguese colony at Ternate, in the Moluccas, with three caravels, either to search for gold or to intercept the Spaniard Ferdinand Magellan, who was rumoured to be sailing to the Pacific via Cape Horn to claim Portugal's prized Spice Islands. He returned in 1524 with, in some accounts, an unspecified number of caravels or, in others, with only two of the three that set out. There are no details of where de Mendonca actually went, but there are two things which, separately or together, are put forward as proof of his being the first European to sight / land on Australia.

The first of these can be found amongst the so-called Dieppe Maps. Presented to the French Dauphin in about 1540, & supposedly copied by spies from a map in the Casa Da India, the Lisbon records office, (which was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755, and all the records with it) it shows a continent named "Jave la Grande", apparently discovered by the Portuguese, which bears a striking resemblance to Australia. This is also popularly supposed to be the chart that Captain James Cook used in the 18th century when, after his "official" voyage to observe of the Transit of Venus from Tahiti, he continued on under "sealed orders" to explore the southern Pacific

The second is the Australian equivalent of the sightings of Noah's Ark. In 1836, two sealers whose boat had overturned came ashore at a beach near what is today Warrnambool, on the southern coastline of Australia, claimed to have found the wreck of a ship partly buried in the sand dunes. They described it as being unusual in design, & already in an advanced state of disrepair.

There were 26 further sightings, up until 1880, which included descriptions of the ship as being made of "dark, hard wood", "after the fashion of a panelled door", or being made of mahogany, which gave rise to its name "The Mahogany Ship". It has been put forward that these descriptions are strongly suggestive of the design of a caravel, just like those used by de Mendonca. & from this it is extrapolated that this is the missing caravel if only two caravels did return to the Moluccas. Unfortunately, there have been no sightings of the wreck since the 1880s.

The voyage of Willen Jansz is verifiable. He captained the Duyfken ("Little Dove") , a small Dutch ship that sailed from the Indonesian island of Banda in 1606 in search of gold and trade opportunities on Nova Guinea (now Papua New Guinea). It sailed along and briefly visited what he either thought (the British version) was a coast of New Guinea or actually knew (the Dutch version) to be the west coast of what is now called Cape York Peninsula in extreme northeastern Australia. He has therefore been officially regarded as the first European to see Australia.

Now, however, a third player has been put forward, Emanuel Godinho de Eredia, the son of a Portuguese father & a Malayan princess, educated by the Jesuits first at Malacca & then at Goa, the Portuguese enclave in India. It is quite possible, if we assume the ship-wrecked caravel is a flight of fancy, that he was the first European citizen to sight & chart Australia.

When Martin Edmond started his blog Luca Antara I googled the name & discovered the abstract of a paper, Eredia Map 1602. Ouro and Luca.Antara Islands: A Case for determining that Ouro and Luca.Antara Islands shown on the Eredia Map are, respectively, Melville and Bathurst Islands of the Tiwi Islands of Australia by an N.H. Peters & published in Cartography, Vol. 32, No. 2, which went, in part
"Europeans, the Dutch, 'first discovered' Australia in 1606. This paper claims there was probably an earlier Portuguese exploration of the Tiwi Islands in northern Australia around 1600. And it puts forward a novel bearing technique for comparing antique maps to corresponding modern publications. The technique is used to demonstrate that a 1602 map, by Emanuel Godinho de Eredia, then a leading cartographer, probably depicts these islands."
The map was included in a book by Eredia, The Description of Malaca, with the manuscript dated 1613. In it, in a small chapter on Meridional India (South Indies), is a detailed report on an island called Luca.Antara to which a journey was made in 1601.

Martin was well aware of Eridia. The book he has been writing this year is based on the 1610 voyage of Antonio da Nova between Malacca and Luca Antara.
"The sole mention of this event is in a letter written by da Nova to cosmographer Manoel Godinho de Eredia and published in Eredia's Report on Meridional India; the recreation of the voyage is necessarily an act of imagination, which will evoke the lost worlds of Nusa Tenggara and the adjacent north west coast of Australia."
He didn't know of the paper until I used it in my post, but he has since corresponded with the author who sent him a copy of it.

At the time that I was writing only the abstract was accessible electronically. Now, however, the full text is available, posted on a website created by Peter J. Grigg "to allow a wider readership of the paper by Noel H. Peters". A Peter Grigg is thanked at the end of the paper; I do not know if they are one & the same or perhaps father & son. I would also like to think that Martin, through his interest & the title of his blog, helped persuade Peter Grigg to put the paper on-line.

It is an intriguing & persuasive paper, which makes use of the "Triple Connection and Gridlock technique for comparing an antique map to its modern counterpart". It also sets out some of the reasons for the secrecy necessary at the time (but which now make verification more difficult).
In essence, Eredia's writings, some twelve years after the event, appear to be a continued, deliberate smokescreen aimed at confusion by deception, subterfuge and secrecy for the protection of Portugal's long-term, political interests. One can more easily understand Eredia's deception when it is realized that from 1595 …and by 1601, no fewer than 14 Dutch fleets (at 3 to 5 ships per fleet) had sailed for the Indies and the United Provinces had overtaken Portugal as the leading trading nation in the East.
I'm intrigued that Eridea felt necessary to resort to a ficcione, specifically leaving his readers to infer that he did not visit these islands, yet he was careful to add his name to his 1602 map; and to another world map, dated 1606, on which he names himself as the descobridor of Luca.Antara in 1601. & I'm also intrigued by the Commission given Eridea, in which he is stated to have "the priority rights to discover (what is now called Australia) at some future time".

I, for one, am convinced by the paper that Eredia was the first European to visit Australia, though I admit to bias in that I would go for the Portuguese over the Dutch every time. & though I applaud these voyages of discovery I am not so enamoured of their purpose for I am appalled by what came after, in almost every country of the world, with the advent of white settlement.

My only caveat to the paper is pure whimsy on my part. The Eredia map was discovered in the National Library in Buenos Aires in 1946. Below is part of the chronology of the life of Jorge Luis Borges, author of Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius
1937, named to the post of assistant librarian at a small library in Buenos Aires.
1946, having opposed the military dictatorship of Juan Perón in his speeches and non-literary writings, Borges is removed from his post as librarian and offered a job as a chicken inspector.
1955, Peronist regime overthrown; Borges is made director of the National Library in Buenos Aires

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Origin of the Species

The "Next Blog" feature found at the top of most blogs these days & which takes you to a randomly-selected "public" blog, produces some humorous entries in the referers' list.

Found amongst the visitors today at Textual Conjectures is BIO 697 - Invasive Species: Ecology & Management: Reading Assignments for 9/13 - 9/17.

I can just see the next assignment. Mitosis & Apoptosis in the work of Jukka-Pekka Kervinen.

Start the week off well

by checking out the great work at Harry K. Stammer's eponymous blog & Kirsten Kaschock's NEGATIVE WINGSPAN.

A new issue of

Gregory Vincent St Thomasino's eratio is online.

A turn around the lawn

Not how I would have
preferred to spend
my time. But when The
World asks you to
take a turn around
the lawn after lunch
how can you turn
the invitation down.
Forwent the siesta ex-
pecting insight &
the exposition of an
ideal set of corporate
goals. Instead subjected
to an egotistical list
of mergers, takeovers,
strategic alliances &
plays that have no
other purpose than
an exercise of
personal power. So sad
to find The World is
just another business
that is run by men.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

I am intrigued by the (mentally-assembled) list of non-contributors to the latest issue of the m.a.g.. Maybe I'm not the only one who has been turned off shopping in a bulk-buy poetry supermarket.

The Pulling Power of Poetry

My thanks to Dumbfoundry for this link.

New Zealand's poet laureate draws crowd of more than 20

As I commented, that's almost half the population of New Zealand.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Concerning Godzilla

Dear Jean

I agree with you that it's a shame about Godzilla. At first glance it appears to be some sort of sellout on the beast's part.

But then I got to thinking. Have you ever seen Dick Cheney & the big G. together? In the same place? At the same time?

At least Mothra still appears to be upholding the ethical standards now understandably prevalent throughout the post-Bikini Pacific. Last time I saw her she was on the beach with a lei & a ukelele, doing some sort of cowboy swing number. Not a politician in sight. (Though I must admit that there wasn't much beach left as the globally-warmed waters rose higher. It's a bit of a paradox, fossil fuel accomplishing what nuclear fission never did.)

Best wishes

p.s. I saw J.G.Ballard swimming in the lagoons of Truk atoll.

Monday, September 06, 2004

it over

Jukka rewrites The Tale of Genji

Genji lusts after a princess because he cannot resist the beauty of the music she plays on the zither. Almost instantly he declares his love for her and pursues her with a flurry of letters.
(9 p.m.) & check out the new format of & the new posts at textual conjectures.

The Magritte Poems by Hannah Weiner

I rushed through the door.
You had bitten a way for me.

Hannah Weiner: Amorous Perspective
Tracking back along a search that landed somebody at my Series Magritte
I found The Magritte Poems of Hannar Weiner, written in 1966, first published by Poetry Newsletter in 1970 & reproduced & re-produced posthumously by the Buffalo epc as both html & pdf files.

They are delightful & precise poems, not a word out of place, & with accompanying notes on each of the eight that are a joyful accompaniment, not an explanation.

A common remark when people discover my Series is that "Everybody has a Magritte poem". That may be so, but these poems by Hannah Weiner are amongst the best of them. I am sad that I had not come across them until yesterday.

The painting, Amorous Perspective, aka Amorous Vista, that the poem above relates to can be found here.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

a memorial hay(na)ku for Donald M. Allen

New American
Poets – who cares

you grouped
them! Your showing

to me
was my awakening.

Friday, September 03, 2004

A True History of The Oracular Sonnets

Saturday, April 10, 2004. I posted a piece, A poem beginning with a line from Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, to pelican dreaming. Not a great poem, but I found humour in doing it, the title a pastiche of Robert Duncan's A poem beginning with a line from Pindar plus Jukka's description of his work as nonlinear poetry. I'd been getting bombarded through my hotmail account with spam that was comprised of random words, generated by a program I thought probably similar to one of Jukka's, had used their subject lines to make a nonlinear poem of my own, so Jukka was occupying my thoughts at the time.

We knew each other in the way that bloggers do. My first publication (apart from a curated invitation) after I came back to writing was in a journal that also had him in it. We shared the same line in the spread-across-the-page index of authors. His is a name that is easily noticed; Jukka-Pekka like a ragged mountain range, Kervinen like the valleys that slope down from them. Over the next couple of years we appeared together several times. We both became participants in the As/Is group blog, commented on one another's work from time to time. He accepted some poems of mine for xStream, then some more. We emailed one another. I sent him a manuscript for his excellent xPress(ed) series. He was one of the first to put up a link when I started pelican dreaming. His nonlinear poetry blog was the first link I put up on mine.

The Friday after the post I got an email from him, acknowledging the poem, giving me a bit of stick for my earlier remark that the content of the spam emails was from his blog. & then, in brackets, almost as if it were an afterthought, he mentioned that he had some 'intentionally unfinished' poems, templates, & would I be interested in some collaborations. Would I? Sent back an affirmative response, & received the first five the next morning.

Within three hours the template beginning " n l rs se be a t d s a" had become a poem that started "nearly seized & beaten, / but escaped through". I sent it off to him, to see if he liked it, to see if it was the way he wanted us to go. An excited email came back in the evening. Consensus. By that time I'd already done more. The next morning I sent an attachment containing eight poems off to him.

There were poems provoked by the templates, incorporating the templates – crossed out, written through, inverted, truncated - & some having absolutely nothing to do with them apart from being written within the same frenzied period. At this point there was little sense of unity between the poems – they were individual pieces, but amongst them the threads of chance, linkage & states of being.

That evening – it's a time zone thing, this morning/evening Finland/Australia correspondence - five more templates arrived. The first began " r d s se s a / o al" & from that came “roads seesaw towards the / the oracle” fourteen lines in all, the first Oracular Sonnet. Now there was an overall framework, a direction. The creative frenzy continued. Chance reinforced throughout. As example: I wanted to chop an existing sonnet in two vertically. Picked an anthology from the bookcase & the first sonnet I found was Yeats' Leda & The Swan, about beating wings. & one of the poems I had written stimulated by the first group of templates had the lines "of the / beating wings / of words". It was one of those times when everything just fell into place.

At 4.11 p.m. on the Monday evening, two & a half days after the first templates arrived, the eighteen poem sequence of The Oracular Sonnets of Mark Young & Jukka-Pekka Kervinen was on its way from Rockhampton to Espoo. Accompanied by a tumultuous roll of drums, FAACOPS, the Finnish & Australasian Co-Prosperity Sphere, had been launched.

The Gaudy Image

The manner of speaking is barbarous.
Coarse words, harsh incantations
that chafe like wolves' tongues
on the thighs of angels. The manner
of speaking is the way of his life. The
unhesitant, uncluttered flow of words.
Their power, the heat of them,
on which your fingers burn, or else
your body, pressed against him. In
the beginning there was silence. Though
there were words, you would not reach
into the sticky air & pick them out.
In the beginning there was your silence.
& now another, more deathly, more
strained, through which the worms of
revelation crawl, waiting to be discovered,
like pornographic pictures of yourself
you didn't admit existed. How to explain them
in soft words? or make light of them? Or even
try. Now you can only wait for the end,
your brittle fingers tilted towards the moon
to soften them. In failing light / a last
deception. The rails of your life glint
in the far distance, the scarred tracks. Mem-
ory? Common wounds? Or an old record,
worn thin, out of which some even thinner voice
rises to lick your cunt with its dry tongue.
Memory. & in the wind are faded flowers.


Thursday, September 02, 2004

Dear Jean

this be
a piece of

? Writing
tag a (b)log?

A brilliant piece of writing

Martin Edmond's A man in search of his soul at Luca Antara is bloody marvellous.

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 11

The Mother of Wine
The mother of wine
must be sacrificed. Her
children must be seized
& thrown into prison.

It will be impossible
to take her children from her
unless you first trample
her beneath your feet

& squeeze her essence
out. Nor may you
under law separate
the baby from her breast

until she has nursed it
for at least seven months,
beginning April, through
to the end of October…..
from: 1400 bayt of Abu Abd Allah Rudaki
translated by Umberto Allegrezza
The Manichean Press; Bukhara, Uzbekistan, 1999.

Previous Part / Next Part

I am not posting this

I am not posting that truth is stranger / curiouser / funnier / more entertaining than fiction

I am not posting that I agree with Jonathan Mayhew that it is difficult to say which of the two excellent pieces is the better read, Eileen Tabios' TABIOS VS TUHAN or Stephanie Young's The Bees

I am not posting that there is tension which builds towards the inevitable outcome of The Bees whereas the tension of T. v. T. is more to do with the uncertainty of the outcome of the pamanhikan

I am not posting that one story is classic horror whilst the other is a bit of a chickflick where I ended up moist-eyed

I am not posting any of this

It is a ficcione

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

ragTAG & bobtail

so the
tag will last

than ein
tag, I will

out of
the ring at

get my tagteam

Jean Vengua,
in to take

place. Remember.
Hay(na)ku rules OK(IR).


A new issue of Tin Lustre Mobile is up.


Anybody that can get Jukka to be this garrulous ain't half bad.

Am going to add Karri Kokko's MUISTI | KIRJA to the sidebar.

The Allegrezza Ficcione, Part 10

Allegrezza searched the rest of von Holstein's papers but could find nothing else of interest. It seemed as if the capture had ended the Count's desire for travel. He had spent his remaining years staying close to his castle, writing fancies about minor personages in major historical texts & some masques for his family & servants to perform in, & breeding those dairy cattle that are all that now retain his name.

Umberto emailed Gemma, telling her what he had found, asking her to see what contacts she could arrange in Iran or Iraq or the Muslim Republics that had once formed part of the U.S.S.R., telling her that he would be in Rome in two days time.

Nestore had left him a trust fund, which he was now of an age to access. He could therefore postpone taking up a post-doctoral position for a year & instead spend the time travelling east along the Silk Road. His parents were dismayed when he told them what he was going to do – "A foolish quest by a foolish youth" said his mother; his father said nothing.

He felt he would find nothing in Turkey. Iraq was still restricted by no-fly zones, & Mosul was a centre of Kurdish unrest. He would venture there only if absolutely necessary. Tabriz seemed the place to start, & if he found nothing there then there was that magic carpet of places that came after it – Tehran, Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent, Alma Ata, Yashgar. There was an excitement in reciting them.

In Rome he immediately went to arrange to have a new passport issued with the honorific "Doctor" and his occupation given as "literary historian", feeling it might give him a bit more credibility in what would undoubtedly be regarded as an incredible quest by most, if not all, of those he came into contact with along the way. A small bribe in association with the fee for expedition ensured he would have it within a day. Then he went to see Gemma.

She had only a few names for him, but they were far to the east. Too far, probably, to be of much use. But there were still representatives of the Italian Government in many of the places he might be going to, & trading houses. She would see what she could do, & if those names weren't forthcoming before he left, she would send them care of the embassy in Tehran which he should be able to contact once he was in Iran.

He picked up his passport the next day, & then started to arrange visas, for Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan. Easier done than said for all but the first, because most had no representatives in Rome, & were serviced through the Russian Embassy. His story of researching the local literature of the Silk Road was barely attended to & the fact that he had no travel itinerary let alone tickets – he had money, he didn't look like a preacher of dissent, he was a student, un dottore   yet – proved no impediment.

Iran was a more difficult proposition. He had to have tickets out of the country before they would let him in, places to stay which had to be on an approved list. Why did he want to go to Tabriz? Where else was he intending to go in Iran? Where else beyond its borders? Explain over & over what the reason for his journey was. Finally, they told him they would grant the visa when he appeared with his travel documents.

It would have been easier to fly directly into Tehran, but Allegrezza didn't want to arrive like a tourist. & besides, he wanted to leave Tehran until after he been to Tabriz, to follow the Silk Road as it were. He consulted Lonely Planet & other guidebooks, decided he would fly Rome to Istanbul by Alitalia, then Turkish Air to Baku in Azerbaijan where he could catch the once a week flight by Iran Air from Baku to Tabriz that left the afternoon he arrived.

His travel agent tried to talk him out of the itinerary, particularly the last part, citing the effect the trade embargo had had on Iran's ability to import parts for its aging aeroplanes. But it was cheap, & a return ticket paid for in foreign currency even more so. This would be his necessary ticket out of the country. There was scant information on hotels in Tabriz so he picked out the Darya at random, booking a room for a week even though he might not be staying for that length of time.

The transit visa for Azerbaijan was obtained as easily as those for the other former Soviet States; & with all his itinerary approved, & with a few more questions thrown in apparently for the sake of form, he had his Iranian visa within four hours.

He spent some of the eight days before he left playing tourist in his own city, seeking out places he had meant to visit all his life but had never got around to, in the manner of most locals everywhere. He had lunch with Gemma & discussed his vague plans & how they would keep in touch; had dinner with his parents twice & discussed nothing. He called on a couple of Iranians whom he had been to university with & absorbed from them what information they could provide within the confined boundaries he outlayed to them of his coming trip.

He packed, a backpack & a carry-on shoulder bag. He carefully selected some books to accompany him. Three favourites in the backpack - Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Borges' A Personal Anthology & Chang Ts'ai Shang-en's Bodhidharma & The Paradox of Ubiquitous Bunnies - plus Idoru, the new William Gibson novel, to read on the plane.

He caught a bus to the airport. No-one was there to say farewell.

Previous Part / Next Part

xStream Issue #23

xStream Issue #23 is online, again in three parts:

1. Regular: Works from 6 poets
(Steve Dalachinsky, Crag Hill, Mike Estabrook, Sherman Souther, Kenji Siratori and Thomas Lowe Taylor)

2. Autoissue: Poems generated by computer from Issue #23 texts,the whole autoissue is generated in "real-time", new version in every refresh.

3. Wryting Issue #6: a monthly selection of WRYTING-L listserv works