The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry

Was lucky enough to have two poems (Little River, and Ode to C.Y. O’Connor) included in The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry.

The Fremantle Press Anthology of Western Australian Poetry is a comprehensive survey of the state’s poets from the 19th century to today.

Featuring work from 134 poets, and including the work of many WA Indigenous poets, this watershed anthology brings together the poems that have contributed to and defined the ways that Western Australians see themselves.

 

 

The Other Report: Poems Against the Destruction of the Beeliar Wetlands

John Kinsella and I have written a book of poems in non-violent protest against the 100 hectares of bulldozing happening at the Beeliar Wetlands. Please feel free to share this as widely as possible. About 5 hectares has been cleared already. Clearing is set to resume any day now. Please click on the image below to read/download the poems.

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Inside View: Save Beeliar Wetlands

In June of 2014, I took two buses and a train from my home in Fremantle to the trail head of the Bibbulmun Track in Kalamunda. In rain and a leaky jacket I walked for three hours to Hewitt’s Hut, arriving in the dark. Already at the hut was my friend, his brother and two friends of theirs I had never met before. My friend was walking the entire track. His mates had driven in as close they could to the hut. They had brought eskys full of alcohol, meat for the bbq and mobile phones to watch AFL on.

Read the rest of this article here.

Malvolio Road

In Marginata shade, with the depleted ozone
at Malvolio Road, the sandy verge is compacted
by sandals and sneakers, citizens sing
get up stand up, stand up for your rights
and a mum tells her son off for breaking black boy fronds,
and the patrolling police ask us to stay off the street
and the Federal Member for Fremantle stands with us, getting grey sand in his shoes
with his Ray Bans in his back pocket.  Meanwhile architects
and planners present their proposals to Barnett government
ministers their most important work, the Roe8
Highway Extension. The images projected on the screen
are so realistic you might think the project is already built,
the families in the photos appear so happy,
the cockatoos in the sky plentiful, the cars few
and freewheeling and the diagrams so convincing:
arrows show traffic flow and hydrology flow
and mitigation movements and meanwhile in Coolbellup
Janet works at the IGA to pay her rent, cutting open
cardboard boxes and stacking shelves. Janet knows
where every single item in the entire store goes.
On the eighth of December 2016 the temporary fence
went up across the road from her house,
and on that day, for the first time in twenty years
the family of bandicoots Janet has fed and watered and loved
stopped visiting. Two years earlier, on Kings Park Road
The Premier Colin Barnett had an idea, at the meeting table
The Premier Colin Barnett had an idea,
his idea and his alone, out of his own head Colin had an idea
where the idea came from no one present knew where,
but they heard him out, Colin was so moved by his idea
he had to borrow the architects’ notebook and make sketches;
if the people of East Fremantle don’t want Roe highway
straight through their suburb, we’ll build a tunnel,
a five kilometre tunnel underneath White Gum Valley,
that’ll show ’em, said Colin. The Premier himself was so impressed
with his ingenuity he had a sip of water from the small tumbler
in front of him. The idea was so spontaneous that those present
at the polished jarrah table didn’t know what to say,
a junior engineer was sent to draw up some plans.
That day, at Coolbellup IGA, Janet helped her neighbour
Kate find some polenta in aisle three and got a special
treat for the bandicoots’ breakfast.

 

J. P. Quinton – Malvolio Road 12th Dec 2016

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After Heat

This story appeared in Rumble Strip. 

Sorcha told me that whenever she walks in the wind blown streets of Fremantle, she always tends to think of the place underwater. She said she doesn’t know exactly how the buildings will change, but some will have a permanent watermark and their basements and ground floor will become fish tanks. The warming air is warming the oceans and melting icesheets and sea levels are predicted to rise as much as one point one metres over the coming decades and if the seas rise a salt water triangle beginning at the northern end of Packenham street, to Bathers beach, to Little Creatures and then up to South Terrace will all be inundated, the waters rising and falling with the tide each day. The skatepark that runs south-east along the line of the train tracks within the grounds of the Esplanade park will have water rising half way up the half pipes and filling the bowls. This, she said, as if she had been pondering the image for some time, will be an unexpected reversal, as swimming pools are usually drained to make bowls for skateboarding.

Sorcha said you can feel the planet getting hotter and nowadays nobody goes out during the middle of the day and just last night, the temperature rose two point five degrees from 11pm to 1am and has continued to rise all morning until only the brave or those with air-conditioning venture out. The heat, especially standing in direct sunlight, is hot enough to burn the dash board of cars and many arguments have erupted about the apparent ownership of shaded parking bays closest to the markets or to the Woolstores shopping centre. These violent outbursts directed at complete strangers occur daily and onlookers are seen filming the incidents on their mobile phones to upload on social media. I too, began Sorcha, witnessed one of these outbursts, when a woman with black hair and black clothing had been attempting to reverse into a parking bay and a man snuck into her spot near a paperbark tree. When the passengers of the mans car opened their doors they were ambushed by the woman, speaking in Cantonese, which they understood, except for the driver who instructed the woman to get lost, before making his way through the steaming vehicles to the food court. The irate woman who missed her spot left her car stationary in the middle of the car park causing a traffic jam and all kinds of honking from other drivers. As the passengers were following the man to the food court they spotted another car leaving and stood at the entrance of the bay until the angry woman was able to slowly reverse her late model Mercedes into the spot and hastily throw her foil sun protection screen inside the windscreen and secured it with the visors. I often wonder, said Sorcha, if people suddenly find themselves at a breaking point and lose their shit one day or live their lives going from one confrontation to another without realising.

Allan Handelman and Bon Scott interview

In all of the hundreds of AC/DC books, videos and interviews, one of the best is an interview between legendary music man Allan Handelman and Bon Scott. This was recorded just a month or so before Bon’s death, in early 1980. An excerpt from the interview is included at the end of Bad Boy Boogie: The Adventures of Bon Scott, but you can listen to the entire interview at the link below. The interview proper begins after about a minute or two.

Click this LINK to listen to the interview. What are your thoughts?

Horatio 

In Fremantle I walk from op shop to op shop, the heels of my feet growing sorer and sorer and every now and then I take a chunk out of a day old roll in a white paper bag and jam it into my mouth. I’m looking for a lamp but I end up buying an old book about walking in Lebanon. There are pages and pages about gods but most of it goes over my head. At the entrance to the final op-shop, I decide to finish the roll so I pace up and along the footpath chewing and breathing through my nose. Inside I’m a little short of breath and there are no lamps but lots of books so I’m looking at the books the way a tall person might enter a short doorway, when I see the great god-like artist Horatio perusing the cutlery section. Horatio’s texta masterpiece is on the western wall of Gino’s cafe and admired by many, including the art critic Marty M. M. who was so moved by the intricate work that a shower of gold coins splattered into a specially erected tip table. For my own part I was impressed by the way in which Horatio ignored Marty and I as we stood there observing the work the way some might view Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. Other than the stoop in his shoulders (as he moved close to the wall with texta held like a world champion dart throwing), Horatio was no slouch.

As I edged my way along the book shelf my mind returned to my previous thoughts of some day engaging with Horatio. One small dream lead to another until I arrived at the thought of befriending Horatio and perhaps convincing him to partake in a friendly interview for my blog and then spending the afternoon together cackling over several rounds of double espressos and arguing about philosophy and greek gods and climate change. Surely a man who could create such moving works of art harboured an unfathomable and inexhaustible well of wisdom and he would choose me, me, J. P. Quinton to pass that wisdom on to other public intellectuals in the 6160 postcode. I looked up from a copy of Robert Drewe’s The Shark Net and saw Horatio was wearing a bowlers hat, and old but classy sports coat, jeans and sneakers. It looked as though our paths would cross in  final aisle. This was the moment, I thought, I’ll bag my next interview for sure right here in front of the cricket sets.

Excuse me, um, sir, I said, somewhat embarrassed. It was as if his bowlers hat moved first and his head followed. His eyes met mine and his body moved backward in a manner that suggested we were about go shopping in Sale of the Century. Are you the artist working on the wall near Gino’s? Yes, he answered. My approach was possibly too direct – straight for the art – like some inexperienced dealer. Oh, how long have you been working on it for? Horatio frowns as if he’d just downed a shot of lemon juice. Up until about ten minutes ago, he answers. No, I mean, I said, when did you begin working on it? I took a step back. He looked at the broken badminton racquets, How long is a piece of string? he answered with a question, everybody asks me that. I was too caught up in the moment to realise he was saying I was a stupid idiot for asking such a banal question. It appeared that he was asked the same question so many times that he now no longer met the question with any logic and preferred to answer his own question which was how much longer do you think it will take you? I was perplexed. My resolve the chase a story to it’s gritty end was being tested and those observing would see I didn’t have the guts. He hung around in the vicinity for a little while longer basking in the glory of his fame yet satisfied with having brushed off another annoying synchophant. Is that your work behind the buildings down on the corner of Wray Ave? I asked, in my final effort to salvage our future together, gesturing with my right hand in the direction of the associated public artwork. I failed again. He didn’t even answer. He looked at me like I had pooed on his mothers grave and walked off toward the pants.

In just a few short seconds I had gone from admiration, to the hope of a lasting and fulfilling friendship, to being flummoxed to ultimately regretting imparting with the dregs of my student stipend on that sunny day with Marty, who had a funny tummy from a previous night of drinking. Now everytime I walk past Gino’s I wonder what Michelangelo said whenever anyone met him. Michelangelo, when did you begin working on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? To which he would naturally reply: How long is a piece of string?