SALT-LICK, Volume 4 Launch; 13
March 04 at Dantes Restaurant, Fitzroy, Melbourne
I dedicate my comments this evening to the memory
of Cid Corman. Paul Croucher, one of the founders of SALT-LICK, rang me this
afternoon with the sad news that Corman died on 12 March, 6 am, Japanese time. For several
weeks hes been in and out of coma.
us a breath
is a breath
The sound and
Corman was one of the great editors. When the
best of his magazine Origin was published about 30 years ago as The Gist of
Origin, everyone could see what a grand job it had done providing a platform
for the inheritors of the Pound-Williams-Zukofsky tendency chiefly Olson and
Creeley, the Black Mountain Poets and their colleagues and successors all
the way down to the San Francisco poets like George Evans and our own Clive Faust, who
lives quietly in Bendigo . . .
Corman also published important translations,
ancient and modern, from the European languages and Japanese, Chinese. While he supported
Olson and Co., he stuck by his own tastes and values against their hectoring and egotism
a bit of both of which rubbed off on me!
These days, with my booksellers hat on, I
will say that SALT-LICK is the best purely poetry magazine in Australia. But what
would I have said thirty years ago? A magazine which just published poems without a
literary or linguistic [poetic] programme? Wasnt that what the new
poetry and the new poets wanted to transcend? Didnt we think of
that sort of thing as the merely literary, the journeyman mainstream? I remember at
least I think I do arguing the point with Michael Dugan in 1969, but I
wouldnt these days not since the 90s! Forgive me Michael . . .!
A whole lot of water under the bridge since the
60s and 70s. [In 1968 Michael and I published magazines, Our Glass and Crosscurrents,
on different sides of the city, within a fortnight of one another, and until Ken Taylor
told me, ignorant of one another! This event was the beginning of the mini-mag
explosion the rest is history!]
What Ive learnt, since the 60s, is the
limitation of any ideology or certainly, the limited tenure of any ideology. In my
own case, as editor/ publisher and poet, I realised that the pursuit of a
poetical-aesthetical and literary-political line eventually ran me into a massive cul-de-sac.
I needed, personally, to rethink and re-read. I was never happier than in the late 80s,
critiquing my philosophical and literary position. I felt re-born in the 90s, and Im
still reaping the benefits.
As far as I was concerned, postmodernism (the
catch-cry of the 70s and 80s) meant, at the very least, the re-admission of all the types
of poetry which had been reduced or thought to be debased and therefore excluded in the
time of the ascendancy of Modernism. This meant my experiments as a poet could now also
include the traditional forms and privileges of poetry in addition to all of the gifts of
the wonderful adventure of free-verse from Whitman and Rimbaud to the present.
is a magazine whose take on poetry and poetics is pluralist. Whatever is meant by that
blurb Ive read which describes SALT-LICK
as favouring Australian free verse, its clear SALT-LICK actually publishes poets of most
tendencies writing today it publishes poems which stand up as poems in themselves
(in the very way Jenny Harrison discussed in her judges report for the National Poetry
Prize earlier this year), poems which are self-sufficient whatever their formal or
is a magazine whose production values are those of the finely printed poetry-book. Poets
and poems are treated to elegant design readers are given the best chance to enjoy
is a magazine with a Melbourne address. Its our magazine! Melbourne poets or
Melbourne-gravitating poets regularly get into it; poets of every type, including the
no-type-at-all (who seem to me to be finding form for their spoken, spieling poems)!
has an email address and a website. Overseas poets, presumably correspondents of the
magazine, also publish in SALT-LICK.
This throws up another interesting discussion. When I was actively publishing and
reviewing, between the late 60s and mid 80s, I was described as an internationalist. But
its apparent that in the age of the World Wide Web, international either
goes without saying or local includes the www potential wherever one happens
to be. Perhaps international, in the sense of anti-parochial, trans-national, is almost
beside the point nowadays.
then, is quite obviously a Melbourne-based magazine, featuring a great range of the elite,
the up and coming and the quite new poets and poetry in Australia. It is local,
but it is also in the world it receives the world into its Melbourne and
This fourth issue has changed the colour of its
cover, from different shades of grey to bright red, but not the colour of its generous
project. The contents page reveals the proverbial embarrassment of riches Douglas
Barbour, Peter Rose, Adrienne Eberhard, Jane Gibian, Peter Boyle, Earl Livings
Lorin Ford again! Myron Lysenko (biggest storm/ in a hundred years
/ i sleep through it; too much beer/ i lie in bed/ & almost see
something) ah, divine!
We have four contributors to this fourth issue to
read today John Mateer, Sandra Hill, Ross Donlon and Danny Huppatz.
We dont have with us either Margie Cronin
or Rae Desmond Jones amongst many others who are interstate, overseas,
otherwise engaged. Id like to offer something of these. MTC Cronins poem,
Inviting Rain, after Tu Fu, for Kris Hemensley, includes words of mine from an
email exchange between us The man said/ he is wearing his dead son/ like a
cloak of air. Notwithstanding that, its an intriguingly complex poem from a
prolific and ingenious poet. Rae Desmond Joness poem has a wonderful colloquial
purr, like its subject, Dean Martin. His contribution allows us to recall his place in the
1970s little magazine culture, care of the inimitable Your Friendly Fascist, but
thats yet another story . .
many books and booklets of poetry and prose include No Word No Worry (1970), The
Poem of The Clear Eye (1975), Christopher (1987). Kris is the proprietor of
Collected Works (poetry and ideas) Bookshop in Melbourne.