MORTON

Poetry & Photos by Lorne Johnson

morton

I’m into heightened experiences. Often going to great lengths to get the most out of my book selections. Thrills like reading Sautet in a coffee shop in Paris, Bourdain in Vietnam to simply sitting on a tree stump in the wondrous Southern Highlands of NSW reading Lorne Johnson’s poetry chapbook Morton in Morton National Park. A bridge too far perhaps? Never!

Gunnin’ down Sheepwash Road, one is taken aback by the scenery, especially wondrous for us stuck in the city. The Bowral-set in their vintage boy racers hold up traffic with time travelers. Stories of old timers that come to light later like Sassafras 1903 & A Gold Miner At Yalwal, 1933. The history of the place is a great study of internal explorers and identities of colonial NSW, the dispossession of traditional country of the Yuin People with many significent sites of Aboriginal mythology and culture. No stranger to the area, older generations of my family where evacuated to Exeter during the war. It’s a small town in the Wingecarribee Shire close to Morton. Loads of stories of the bush and encounters with its wildlife relayed to me by my mother. This is what may have triggered my curiosity.

On Saturday, I was the first to arrive. Good idea to start early. Nature is on the move as the day warms up and the walking tracks get busy on the weekends especially at my entry point of Fitzroy Falls. The area Morton covers is huge. It contains 200,000 hectares of unique species of flora and fauna found in the area. It is a birders paradise. It took a while for the buzz from these city ears to open to the quiet. You stand and wait to hear where the whistles land, look up and scan the trees for birds you’ve never seen. There are trees for special diets, fussy rare birds. As one walks, the occasional look down is welcomed, for unsuspecting lizards sunning on the edges of the tracks are often too blissed to notice walking boots. Twisted branches are used to dart from. Morton is a tangled mess and aftermath of storms and fire. Branches weighed heavy with wind splinter, wildflowers, insects and human interference. I can see exactly where the poems come from.

Lorne’s poetry is another way to discover Morton and its guide to secret destinations and his love of birds. I know I will find Honeyeaters, Satin Bowerbird’s that are partial to ‘Smurfs‘ and ‘Ansell wrappers’ to swoon the hearts of potential mates. His anthropomorphic and humourous scenarios say a lot about himself, ‘sipping grog from a gumnut’ and ‘diggin’ Miles‘. Musical tastes beat fresh in a few stanzas, meeting his reflection in anothers nest. Superb Lyrebirds actions hints at a city boy’s eyes. Macleay’s Swallowtails and the unknowing help of a common wombat during one of the areas fires, just a few of the beautiful observations you’ll discover.

Inside Morton, one is secluded in nature but surrounded by bustling country towns, some with dubious environmental agendas. Coal mines, polluting factories and hunters. A Reaction to a 2012 Hunting Proposal poem is met with a level head, reading the personality of culprits and possible problems that may occur. If this poem was read out at the council meeting, the NO’s would be unanimous. You won’t be bored with Yet Another Poem Featuring Gum Trees, Lorne knows these guys inside and out, he has such a beautiful take on things. He has a very colloquial heart, written in a different language but that’s because no where in the world, other than here, would you encounter a Dusky Antechinus or a Greater Glider, in places like Billy Bulloos Canyon or Dungeon Creek. You have to know what a wobbegong is to understand all the treasures here. I especially have never heard a Swamp Wallaby described more perfect.

Lorne’s poetry is a medicine, a timeless message to explore and find yourself in the beauty of the bush. My close encounter with these poems, honeyeaters, parrots, wildflowers, waterfalls and a fork in the trail certainly enriched my weekend.

You can find Morton via Pit Street Poetry. They have done a sublime job in the design and print quality of this beautiful chapbook. The pictures have that lovely real gum haze, Lorne’s photographs remain true to eyes, simple compositions and taste of Morton’s jewels. If you want to connect with Lorne you can visit his blog and also on twitter

Lorne Johnson Poetry Reviews

LOVE SPELLS

I have a powerful zine in my hands. Love Spells by Lillian Cuda or Lilly C as I was introduced to her at the Sydney Zine Fair. Voted by me as cutest stand in the multiverse, Lilly stood out in in a blaze of black and pastels, an emanation of beautiful energy, honest and humble. Her work is from a personal perspective, what has worked for her. I bought these to pass on to some younger family members but actually can’t seem to part with them. Still get a kickin’ buzz and inspiration from her work so haven’t had the heart to hand them over just yet.

czjj5okuoaapft9Hand drawn and coloured crystal identification charts starts our first lesson. Red garnet is an amazing stone as I discover ‘it is the embodiment of love and when worn it helps to revive feelings, stir sexuality and aids to control anger and self destructive behaviours’ – look out! Kunzite is fascinating as it is a mending stone for us broken ones. There are drawings of Flowers For Love, Spells for Self Love. This page includes some fascinating steps from writing¬† ‘I deserve love’ in beetroot juice and holding blooms of Ranunculus when you doubt your awesomeness. This zine comes with a double page of hand drawn stickers to pop on things as reminders of positive love energy. We can bend, mend and banish love in simple steps. This zine is a gem for just that. Her shop for Crafty Witches & Magical Babes can be found here with links to all her ‘awesomeness’.

Reviews Zines & Journals

Pancake Batter

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I caught my local king of glue, paste up artist Mike Watt, at this years Sydney Zine fair. His ugly portraits are brilliant and it was a thrill to catch a glimpse of the face behind the paper faces that we meet in the back streets of the city. Big admiration for this guy, I’ve been photographing his pieces for years. He enlivens the deadly dire, loneliness and walls that edge into hubs of us socially minded. I was happy to snap up his contribution at the festival, the superb Pancake Batter. Hard stock, black & white grittiness. Really impressed by the gallery of paste up stars, floss man, matthew, free wifi man, touches of Shu/Monstery & Me (another great street illustrator) but also the way they have been photographed is artful in itself. The backgrounds almost feel wheat paste based, an urban set, but they are real surrounds for his work to blend into. The bonus ‘Paste Recipe’ on the inside back page encourages one to get their hands sticky.

I wonder at the lengths that people go to get a bomb piece high in the sky. The best thing is size is no obstacle, one has the luxury of planning pieces before hijacking the night. The more extension poles you have the better, that’s what makes many pieces amazing. Adrenalin rush is part of the job. It’s not legal, though these days councils and shops are embracing the art and doing call outs for masterpieces. They are ephemeral, I have photographs of paste ups that are now paper mache in the drains, specks of white dandruff between the mortar. If you dig the art form, take a peek of Mike’s work via his website.

 

Tonight’s indulgence and Mike Watt connection

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Movie poster illustrated by Mike Watt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graffiti Mike Watt Zines & Journals

MOONRISE by Ella Chappell

I’ve had time to notice the moon more lately. Weekends away from work, my depth perception filters out further now. I look up and out more for natures clock, rhythms that get lost to me inside the trappings of the daily grind. A poetry book that has sneaked into my night is Ella Chappell’s Moonrise. Between The Moon And Me There’s A Zinnia has me recalling the NASA project, the new nature. The zinnia bloomed in space, and its outcome’s having us all pondering a world we wont get to see. Down on earth, Ella is spinning plants into lines that hook into me. I’m latching onto theories that I can comprehend. Every now and then, one wonders if this poetry is sat in places that I cannot find any meaning in. At first it felt like reading the quantum physics of intimacy. It may have been too personal. I felt I was somewhere I shouldn’t have been, watching, listening, hiding in the void. But this poetry needs to be alone with you for a while, take you under the sheets. It’s my third time in the warmth and personal space of this poet. Each time, I am even more gobsmacked at the images, the beauty, the understanding of all of this.moonrise2

I’m this poem, which took all of time till now to create

We head through phases of the moon. Longitudes and time add another measurement of space between thoughts here. They have a mathematical edge, a sparkle in a cosmic dance. There are bees¬† and lots of family and lots of love and links with eternity. 20.13, 90% waning gibbous is just part of her moon diary of feelings, her stories, our natural flow. My Childhood Vs Donald Trump is a brilliant parallel of lives, of thoughts, of opposites. His vulgarity perplexing. There was one poem that shook me, made my eyes go wide with amazement. Blue buttercups is a mania of happiness which I adored, ‘post-euphoric sweat so thick it slips off his neck‘ one can only reflect this poems lust for life.

The night shots, a reflection of lights from many sources, really suits the chosen prose even though the daylight is paramount. This poetry book was published by Rosie Sherwood from As Yet Untitled publishers who specialise in limited edition, handcrafted literary works. Moonrise is available via their website.

As Yet Untitled Ella Chappell Poetry Reviews

GWIL vs MACHINE

I wanna wanna wanna make a fanzine…

 

Damn catchy that. Trapped in my head now. That’s the kind of thing that happens when I search round for any info on my review subjects. My latest, man of mystery, punk poet and original member of the ‘muy guay’ underground band, ‘Irreparables’, Gwil James Thomas.

So delighted to see the many places his work has appeared. Loads of zines, articles online, backs of doors, loads of personal journals and finally, through the stapled and bloody deft fingers of Martin Appleby. This is another fine release from ‘Paper&InkZine‘ Towers and chance for a brief encounter with this compiled work written between 2013 & 2016. This will surely be a warm up for some meatier compilations. As an admirer of his thoughts – reviews in Zines & Journals like Push, Paper & Ink & Hand Job – one won’t be deterred by time. It will come when it comes and so, for now, get treated to this compact taster, Gwil vs Machine.

gwilFirst I dig the typewriter offset and obscure mentions of dead punks. I also want to ‘bring back free toys in cereals’. Absolutely. My growing pains have become ink, completely sold me and I’ve just turned the first page. I have read a few of these before, enjoying them again as I did then. A jack of everything, this guy lists them all out for us in The Mule’s Early Retirement, finding worth in all the pain and crap one puts up with slugging it for ‘delusional power hungry cunts‘. With Gwil, there is a delightful poeticism in his straightforwardness. Lots of poems breeze through nature, poems for ants, where he has been or where he is heading. A traveller’s bag of stories, side of the road laments. Absolute freaking solid beauty like San Sebastian Poem, you are there, and for a moment you too want to find a similar fate. The Man Who Wasn’t Feeling Himself delves back to a childhood memory and with the years of that image returning formed into a fine memorial, understanding what really happened, interpretation far from truth. Humans hide so much away from each other, they make light and life moves on.

Gwil rides his imagination through the night, you can tell these are the poems that helped him sleep, that cleared a restless mind. There are poems that also black and white it. Reflecting On Everything That I Loved About Your Art Exhibition, don’t want to give the poem away, but two words say it all. Gwil loves the sea, the words wade just like a swell at times, a shanty, beautiful rhythms to cause a sigh. It has been a wondrous glimpse and the more times I read the louder his voice becomes. We all need to fight the machine.

Now for the bad news. This one has sold out! (boo goes the crowd) but I hear there may be a round two soon. Just contact Martin if you are interested in a copy.

 

 

(intro line lyrics by The Irreparables /featured image introduction by Gwil James Thomas)

 

 

Gwil James Thomas Poetry Reviews Zines & Journals

Heroin Haikus

American writer William Wantling only hit my radar a few years ago. His poem Poetry was an absolute soul opener for me. Amazed how the violence of a dying man could be reported as a poem, a piece of art, without diminishing the sadness or respect for this loss of life. Told myself this is someone you need to get into. Wantling died of heart failure at 40 back in the 70’s and never really received the exposure and respect that the likes of his peers got back in the 60’s. He did have a real presence with more independent underground publishers and those in their cliques. It is still the case today with independent publishers Tangerine Press. They popped works by Wantling a few years back which are still available via their website.

heroinThis compact piece of poetic history, Heroin Haikus, was released in October. It sits on my desk and has been picked up many times, by many hands, starting the ‘never heard of him’ conversations. Not really traditional Haikus, they have an air of close enough, his poems are loose and direct, that is standout here. Ten succinct pauses, seventeen syllables, maybe a word game to relieve the boredom and diminish the pain of being trapped, coping with life inside. These haikus of broken rules say so much.

I love its emptiness and the original drawings by Ben Tibbs, the inked cockroach, a fish eye view of busting cops, holding a gun like a limp dick in his hand, Wantling’s mind detached. This realism is repeated in his larger pieces and there are collections that you will find on Tangerine Press’s website if you want to explore more. Heroin Haiku’s is printed on good quality cream stock in piercing black ink. It can take you a minute or an hour to read, depending on how much you want to see into it. It is a fine addition to my poetry shelf.

 

 

 

Poetry Reviews Tangerine Press