Tag Archives: Twitter

November Verse 1: On quitting Twitter

For the thirteenth year in a row, I’m setting out to write 14 fourteen-line poems in November. I intend to write mostly Onegin stanzas*, and at least some of them will relate to the news of the day. As always the aim is quantity, and quality if possible.

So here goes with Verse Nº 1, hoping I don’t lose too many readers who might otherwise have been referred here by Twitter:

On quitting Twitter
I'll miss the cats and fancy dances,
Dreyer's copy-ed decrees,
First Nations chat – what are the chances
I'll find another path to these?
I'll miss the links to weighty writing,
jokes and spleen and humble-skiting,
praise apportioned, insults hurled.
I've closed my window on that world.

Thank Musk, speech freedom absolutist.
No longer am I like a chook
transfixed by python's stony look,
a string to algorithm's lutist.
Come on out, the real world's fine.
My idle moments now are mine.

For those who don’t know:

  • Benjamin Dreyer is chief copy-editor at Random House in New York, author of Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to English and Style, passionate advocate of the Oxford comma and endlessly amusing tweeter
  • Indigenous X is, or was until recent attacks led them to hit pause, a rotating Twitter account founded by Luke Pearson and hosted by a different First Nations person each week

* The Onegin stanza was probably invented by Alexander Pushkin and features in his verse novel Eugene Onegin. I first encountered it, and fell into its thrall, in Vikram Seth’s verse novel The Golden Gate. It consists of 14 lines of iambic tetrameter (meaning that each line has four beats, or four feet, of two syllables each) with the rhyme scheme aBaB ccDD eFF eGG, where the lowercase letters represent rhymes where the stress falls on the second-last syllable, and the uppercase represent rhymes where the stress falls on the last syllable.

November verse 12: from Twitter

November verse 12: From my Twitter feed
Here a toxic timebomb leaking,
there the art of monstrous men.
The President’s no longer seeking
Time’s acclaim, hates CNN.
Tony tells us there’s dishonour
in the darknessMal’s a goner.
Evil Peter wields a stick
and won’t let doctors tend the sick
and injured. But there’s also blankies
worn by baby jumbos
is not a plant
, and this may help:
change socks at lunch. Sweet granny’s hankies!
So much noise. But then there’s news
direct from people like Behrouz.

Links are there if you need an explanation or, in a couple of cases, entertainment.


NSWPLA Dinner: I wasn’t there

Just in case anyone was wondering after my post deliberating whether to shell out $150 for the pleasure of attending and blogging the presentation dinner for the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards: I didn’t shell out.

I thought I might storify the event from afar, and went so far as to register on the storify site and explore how to do it. But apart from a couple of images of the fabulously lit-up Mitchell Library reading room, and the relaying of this solitary comment by a winner

the tweeters confined themselves pretty much to telling us who won what. I couldn’t even tell if David Ireland, recipient of the special award, was there.*

Today’s newspapers didn’t give us much colour and movement either. The Sydney Morning Herald printed an abridged and edited version of Kathryn Heyman’s address, and a piece by Susan Wyndham listing the winners, with some detail about the Book of the Year, Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight. (That’s the only one of the prize-winners I’ve read. It’s a brilliant book.) Stephen Romei in the Australian focused on David Ireland, who it turns out wasn’t there, but wrote a ‘typically idiosyncratic acceptance speech’ which was read out by his agent.

Did George Souris keep up tradition by mispronouncing at least one person’s name? Did any prize-winner except Tim Soutphommasane say anything memorable? What was idiosyncratic about David Ireland’s speech? Was the food OK? Did everyone behave themselves? We may never know.

* But if you’re interested, the State Library of NSW did storify the event, here.

The Apology, part 2

Continuing my exercise in versification (click here for Part 1):

Guest speaker at a Young Libs’ dinner bash
he called on them to rally round their leader
because the enemy, ‘this woman’, could still smash
their hopes at next election. So he kneed her
hard, ‘She lies, she lies!’ He grew more rash
and said her old man died of shame. But, reader,
one diner was recording every word:
that phrase went public. Hornets’ nests were stirred:

a Murdoch headline, no deniability,
a facebook regiment of joint destroyers,
a dot org that’s fed up with his scurrility,
a Twitter tag a weapon to deploy as
sharp as knives: Vulnerability,
thy name is Jones. He can’t enjoy his
private vitriol put out to air.
He knows he must apologise – fair’s fair!

And so it goes. He mounts the podium.
‘Some days,’ he says, ‘you must man up and say
you got it wrong. I’ll face your odium.
I shouldn’t have repeated it, OK?
I loved my dad and’ (take a pinch of sodium
with chloride now) ‘I didn’t mean – no way –
to dilute a daughter’s grief, not even hers.
You should eat crow while hot. The gorge stirs:

‘It should not have been repeated. I, through you,
apologise: it was said, it’s unacceptable.’
[So hard to say! He could have said, ‘Screw you!
I made a nasty joke and some contemptible
muckraker made it public. Tell true, you
pious mob, who hasn’t been susceptible
to such a thing? I said he died of shame.
I’m not the first, but I cop all the blame.’]

To be continued as time and the need to do socially useful things allows.


Just in case you haven’t been following the fabulous response to Alan Jones’s colourful pronouncement that women are destroying the joint, I recommend you have a look at the Twitter hashtags #destroythejoint and #destroyingthejoint. Oh how much better exuberant sarcasm and just plain fun and celebration is than outraged defensiveness!

There’s a great photo gallery at Daily Life. I particularly like the images of Marie Bashir, Eva Cox and Penny Wong.

Journals: Asia Lit Review 16 & Overland 199

Stephen McCarty (editor), Asia Literary Review Nº 16 ([northern] Summer  2010)
Jeff Sparrow (editor), Overland Nº 199 (Winter 2010)

Both these journals have been sitting on my desk for too long.  This is the first Asia Literary Review with Stephen McCarty as editor, which is not the hot news it would have been if I’d read it when it arrived months ago. With Overland, my tardiness is even more embarrassing – the  much awaited special 200th issue is being launched in Melbourne this weekend, making issue 199 so last season.

This is only the third issue of the ALR I’ve read, and as far as I can tell the editorial change doesn’t herald any major shift in direction.

This issue includes work from and about Thailand, Laos, China, Japan, Vietnam, Korea, Indonesia, India, Singapore, Hong Kong, Turkey, and their diasporas. Intergenerational tensions loom large in almost every piece. Two sayings, one Indian and the other Chinese, capture something of the tenor of that looming. In Sandip Roy’s ‘No Country for Old Women‘, reporting on government attempts to reunite families where elderly parents have been abandoned or abused, he comments:

Love, my mother always says, flows downwards. You can’t force it flow the other way if it does not want to.

The fading popular singer who narrates Stephen Hirst’s ‘It’s All in the Silhouette‘ quotes a ‘lovely Chinese saying’:

one generation plants the trees, the next gets the shade.

Story after story, some very good, deals with a parent’s love and sacrifice, a child’s obedience or resentment and rebellion. There’s an awful lot of pain – grandmothers with bound feet occur in more than one story, and there are a number of guilt-pricked young men living in the USA.

There are other subjects: Gary Jones reports on the Red Shirt encampment in Bangkok earlier this year; Jaina Sanga’s story ‘The Maharaja and the Accountant‘ is a tale of politics from the dying days of the Raj; and there’s a short essay by Tippaphon Keopaseut, ‘Looking for Laos‘. In this last, the writer explores the cultural traditions of her country, beginning with the shocking observation that ‘compared to the great nations of the world, Laos seems little more than an empty space’, continuing with savage wit to give a history of colonisation and concluding:

So, I continue looking for Laos. And if it doesn’t exist? I’ll just have to invent it. After all, isn’t that what writers do?

I hope that’s not just youthful braggadocio. Certainly it’s not the words of someone obliged to stay in shade that someone else has sacrificed their life to plant for them. (The full stories behind those links are available only to subscribers, sorry!)

If the Asia Literary Review serves to expand an Australian reader’s horizons, Overland helps one see more clearly what’s happening near at hand. The entire issue is, as always, available online, so it’s a bit ironic that the first item in the real-world version is ‘Driven to Distraction‘, in which Cate Kennedy inveighs persuasively against internet addiction. As soon as I’d read it, I opened the Twitter app on my iPhone and unfollowed @annabelcrabb, @andrewbolt and the other Tweeters whose witty observations had been delighting (and distracting) me since the election. My Twitter addiction is nipped in the bud. Thanks, Cate! All the same, as with many articles here, I did have a ‘Yes, but’ response: Yes, the internet is a distraction, but I hope not all blogging grows from ‘a compulsion that blunts our capacity for reflective, private contemplation’.

Sean Scalmer and Jackie Dickenson in ‘The March of the Insider‘ do a nice job of deconstructing the historico-journalism of Paul Kelly. I haven’t read any of his books, or indeed any insider accounts of Australian parliamentary politics, but I did recently read Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s Race of a Lifetime, and this article’s shoe fits that book’s foot pretty well:

… the claim of political journalists to a special ‘insider’ knowledge might be considered an impediment rather than a spur to full democratic participation. The ‘inside’ requires an ‘outside’. The same rhetoric that elevated the journalist and the politician thereby also positions the voter as a perpetual outsider, sending the message that there is a separate political sphere of which they are not, and never can be, a part.

Yes, but isn’t it a whole other story when journalists, political or not, write books about issues such as the Tampa, the AWB scandal, or events on Palm Island?

Tad Tietze analyses the rise of the Greens as a party attractive to the left but with a complex relationship with left politics and left perspectives. Thomas Caldwell argues against the likes of Antony Ginnane and Louis Nowra who have recently been critical of Australian films en masse, with box-office takings as their sole criteria of success or failure. There’s a trio of articles that save from possible oblivion aspects of activist history: Zanny Begg discusses and illustrates political art and the counter-globalisation movement (yes, a tremendously interesting piece which I recommend, but isn’t it odd to discuss participatory art in terms that exclude people not trained in artspeak?); Michael Hyde’s memoir ‘Getting out of the Boat‘, gives the inside story of some key moments in Australian opposition to the Vietnam war; Seb Prowse talks to Iain McIntyre about the latter’s How to Make Trouble and Influence People (Breakdown Press, 2009) which deals with imaginative Australian protest, culture-jamming and graffiti from White settlement to the present.

And there’s literary stuff as well: short stories, poems, reviews, an engagement with the controversy around the PEN/Macquarie Anthology of Australian Literature and the new Cambridge History of Australian Literature.

I skipped the article on literary piracy, part of the Meanland project of exploring the implications of new technology for the written word. I know its important, but for now I’m very happy to get my literary journals in holdable, stainable, dog-earable form.