Thursday, 10 May 2012

Martha Landman

For Peter Hurst, to Commemorate His Seventieth Birthday

Peter, you’ve stood firm for seventy years
in the æther, feet firmly on the ground.
Tending husband, father and grandfather
ever delighted by your dispersed clan:
you should’ve been a stately emperor.

You always extend a helping hand;
uninspired by punctuality, rather you
renovate a house with brilliant
artfulness on the Alligator Creek hill;
a tribute to Lori, your love eternal.

Calm you may seem, but you’re full
of fun and laughter, you gladly share
loyalty with everyone upon your path.
Integrity is your only cloak, Peter;
nothing dark, sinister warps your being.

Reminiscing with friends and family,
your abundant life so rich it cannot be 
painted in this two part poem to a
kindred spirit, a friend, for life
who teaches, inspires, loves his wife.


Peter Hurst, solid as a rock
Lori forever by his side
Not much worried by writer’s block
Peter Hurst, solid as a rock
With this triolet I unlock
Creation, these words my tide
Peter Hurst, solid as a rock
Lori forever by his side.


TSTmpj:  For those readers unfamiliar with Peter Hurst, would you share some more thoughts about him based on your personal experience of knowing him?

Martha Landman:  I met Peter Hurst when I joined the Writers in Townsville Society (WITS) in 2010 and was impressed with him from the start.  I observed Peter always reaching out to and supporting new members of the club, always calm, encouraging and very consistent.  To my mind, a rock in WITS and very supportive to his wife, Lori, who was and still is the President of WITS, and above all a great family man, who never lets the opportunity for a joke pass by.


TSTmpj:  Loved ones and family play an important role in the poem.  What is the greatest gift a loved one or family member can give someone, in your view?

Martha Landman:  Definitely the space and an attitude that will allow them to be who they are. We tend to be critical of loved ones and act as if we have the right to judge them.  Our greatest gift is to accept, respect, acknowledge, love and validate who they are. That will allow family members to grow and blossom. In fact that is what we would want from our family members, isn't it?


TSTmpj:  "Writer's block" is mentioned in the concluding triolet.  Is this a problem for you, and how do you try to combat it?

Martha Landman:  Don't talk to me about writers block, man.  It feels like that's all I know about writing!  And that's the beauty of a club like WITS – there's enough opportunity and ideas to get inspired, be reminded of the "tricks" of writing and to keep the juices flowing. I find the more I communicate with other writers, the more inspired I get.  And deadlines for writing projects also help.

Bio Note

South African born Australian poet Martha Landman now resides in Townsville.  Her work has appeared in Dr. Hurley’s Snake-Oil Cure.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Loula S. Rodopoulos


Euros tumble from my pocket
tinkle in tune with Mozart
sway in companionship with Strauss
sweep cobblestones once tarred in blood
bounce in unison with motley street performers  
rebuff touting restaurateurs
weave through tourist loom  
visit Hapsburg sites   art galleries   Klimt   Schiele  
stride Kärtnerstrasse with opulent women  & their leashed companions
pause at monument of Gutenberg  
reflect on printing press  power
slide over fragments of history   cultural & religious schism    holocaust  
cobble my impressions in words

Vienna & Salzburg


TSTmpj:  What inspires you to write, generally?  Do you listen to classical music while you are composing poetry?

Loula Rodopoulos:  I commenced writing poetry in the mountains of the Peloponnese Greece – my refuge from professional activities in Australia where I was born.  Comparative experiences, particularly those that relate to social and political issues, are the focus of many of my poems. I do listen to music when writing but not necessarily classical.


TSTmpj:  I have been told that if one is unfamiliar with classical music, Mozart is the composer to begin your acquaintance with it.  What is your view of this?

Loula Rodopoulos:  I don't have a strong view about this as I am familiar with the work of classical musicians since my schooldays.


TSTmpj:  Can you share some thoughts on the "high culture" of Europe as you see it relating to contemporary Australia?

Loula Rodopoulos:  "Cobblestones" is an example of a travel poem that reflects on "high culture" in Europe.  Whilst I enjoy the experiences I am also cognisant of the historical, political and socio-economic issues of the city. In Berlin, for instance, I was moved by the black and white drawings of K. Kollwitz depicting the hunger of women and children in the 1920s and 1930s. Such exhibitions relate to contemporary Australia in enhancing our understanding of the of immigrant experience.

Bio Note

In 2011 Loula Rodopoulos received a commendation for Chestnuts and a high commendation for Morning In Vienna.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

A.J. Kaufmann

My Piano

Seeking love
from bohemian balconies
smoke stale wood
in twisted meadows
moving in time
w/ half-crumbling faces
of lovers
morning gargoyles
the bed palace church,
my piano quivers on
young leaves tremble atop
uproar the stars
bathe in corn
corpses in matchbox
gaunt earth fears them
while you and me weave vision
from flower flanks and see
some scales vibrate
some dancers sun-drenched


TSTmpj:  I am familiar with cut-up techniques, introduced into American poetry by the likes of John Ashbery.  Who are some of the Polish or other European exponents of this method that you admire?

A.J. Kaufmann:  Cut-ups are not the only technique I use when writing poetry or song lyrics. I use a variety of modern techniques, both Surrealistic and experimental, but I can write with ease using more traditional forms and ideas. It might be my ignorance, but I’m not aware of any modern Polish poets using cut-up techniques. Perhaps there aren’t any? Anyway, my European favorite is A.D. Hitchin, a British poetry and prose writer published extensively in small press and independent journals – he is in no way my "mentor" or "inspiration", just an interesting writer I had the pleasure to encounter. My cut-up poems are derived straight from the real source of the technique I use and build upon: the work of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs.


TSTmpj:  Your poem has a distinctively European, surreal lyricism.  Do you strive for similar effects in the songs you compose?

A.J. Kaufmann:  Thank you for noticing the lyricism present in "My Piano" – I have the feeling that most of my readers don’t recognize that aspect of my work, focusing on the surreal, off-beat and cut-up instead. In my songs I don’t strive for surreality and abstraction. I try to write traditional songs. If we were to believe one Polish review of my debut album, Second Hand Man, my music is a mix of blues, reggae, rock, rock'n'roll, folk, country, shanty and psychedelia. The lyrics are simple, there are no "hidden references", and, as one of my old publishers put it, they focus on "love, life and all the bullshit in between".


TSTmpj:  For non-Polish readers, who are some interesting less widely known Polish poets and musicians of your generation to look out for?

A.J. Kaufmann:  Being the owner and editor of New Polish Beat, my own micro-press, I published lots of great poets, including Michael Aaron Casares, Richard Wink, Steve Calamars, Dan Provost, Luis Cuauhtemoc Berriozabal, and many more, but no one from Poland (except for my own work). I don’t really have any favorite Polish poets of my generation, and I don't buy poetry books in Polish, by Polish authors, but the names mentioned above and all the poets I published are certainly some of the best people I ever worked with. I don't like supporting big presses and reading "latest hits", or "Polish classics", so I choose micro-presses from around the world instead of Polish "alternative publishers", which are probably 50 years behind their "small-press" American counterparts. Thinking of musicians, I'm working with the legend of Polish beat (called big-beat back in the 60s) and rock’n’roll, Mr. Andrzej Mikołajczak, so I have contact and work almost exclusively with musicians from that generation, not mine, however, in my generation, I find the progressive, Crimson-ish, Floyd-ish music of Investinmolden interesting. I also like Millenium, Sledziuha, and the electronic (less widely known) work of Andrzej Mikołajczak.

Bio Note

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Gordon Purkis

Hidden Damages #1

Laying awake, enduring the
hatred of the topsy-turvy status quo,
I put my temple to your
back and can feel your
heart beating and am assured
it is in there somewhere.

My wrongs are your wrongs.

We want to be someplace
other than where we are,
and in so doing we slight God
and the attributes he has
given us both.

We want to love our own
unholy though it may be.


TSTmpj:  How do you reconcile the "unholy sacredness" of an intimate relationship with the necessary compromises of life?

Gordon Purkis:  I believe we seek an ideal in others that we cannot possibly find in them or in ourselves. As a child I struggled with the concept of a fully-god, fully-human person in the form of Jesus. I felt being made less than perfect was unfair and while I have been largely unaware my whole life of where I come up short (and over-aware of the defects of others), I have in recent years opened myself up to the spiritual by elimination of most forms of mind alteration and the resulting weight of the knowledge of my imperfections has been a difficult hurdle. I feel my failures so much, in particular with my failure to form strong and lasting relationships with others. I must strive to accept the ineptitudes of myself and others, find the love and tolerance for them that I would want for myself. I cannot seem to escape the judgment, either of self or others, and compromise is exactly that, a short cut to an easier way that does not exist, not when I know in my heart how to act, and persisting in sabotaging my own life by allowing my defects to control my actions.


TSTmpj:  Are most relationship damages always, necessarily hidden?

Gordon Purkis:  Much like a box that arrives on your doorstep you can't be sure of the condition of its contents until you open it. In the search for truth and reality we try to take the subjectivity out of it, which cannot be done. But, I need to strive to be the person who's looking for the person who's looking for me. I don't want to be a chameleon or necessarily go along to get along, but I can say my truth and hold my beliefs, not necessarily be in conflict with others while continuing to work on self in order to create a better environment for those around me. Kind of like the "customer experience" we want to know how your "Gordon" experience is, we value your opinion and will take into consideration your comments. We also don't know the lesson that God is trying to teach us until we have learned it, so in that sense it continues to be a mystery.


TSTmpj:  "My wrongs are your wrongs" reminds me of a love sonnet by Pablo Neruda, in which he also alluded to the merging of two selves into one.  How far can this merging be taken, for you?

Gordon Purkis:  I do not know the Neruda poem but I have found that the errors we spot in others are the errors in ourselves. As relationships go we all mirror one another and in that sense we are all one, but our separateness is what keeps us confused, our personal sovereignty and the lifelong dialogue we have with ourselves creates a story that takes on a life of its own. Other people seem to fit into our story in various ways, some better (for lack of a different word) than others. But I am so far away from true companionship and intimacy with another human being at this stage than I could hope to be. Better than it once was but still distant.

Bio Note

Gordon Purkis, a writer and artist, currently resides in suburban Atlanta, GA. His most recent book Prayerland is available on

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Linda M. Crate

kisses of stars

bleed a sunrise for me,
chisel it out of the sky
with your sharp teeth;
place marshmallow clouds
in their places – paint
the heavens in citrine,
gold, and bright hot pink –
tell me a secret that I've never
known, and unravel me
until I lay bare before you;
kiss away all my sorrows
with the flames of nights jewels –
let those lanterns carry us home.


TSTmpj:  Your poem's erotic lyricism has a Persian feel to it for me.  Do you like Rumi and other poets of that ilk?

Linda Crate:  It's hard for me to say that as I'm unfamiliar with Rumi or other Persian writers, but I guess now that you've mentioned them to me I'll have to look into it. I generally like any poetry that has a lot of heart and discernible meaning. 


TSTmpj:  Some symbols, themes are universal.  Do you find it difficult to write about love, intimacy, desire, or does it come more naturally?

Linda Crate:  It depends on what I'm mood I'm in honestly. There are some days where I feel more inclined to write about love, intimacy, and desire yet there are others where I am much more inclined to write darker spirited things or horrifying haunts that only an avid horror reader/writer could love. 

But I do think it comes to me naturally to answer the other part of that question. I am a rather romantic person even if you can't always tell that. I am more apt to write a passionate poem than to tell someone how much they mean to me – I find it hard to articulate those sorts of things in person for whatever reason. 


TSTmpj:  Do you usually compose your poetry at night, or in daylight hours?  Or both?  How does the time you write affect how you write, do you feel?

Linda Crate:  I write in both hours. I feel that the poems at night are more philosophical and sometimes deeper and less introspective than the ones written in the morning hours. Though, there are days where that may be flip-flopped. It just depends on my source of inspiration I think – whatever my muse gives me to work with that's the current I take.

Bio Note

Linda Crate is a Pennsylvanian native published in various journals. She enjoys golden autumn laughter.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Neil Ellman

The Fire that Consumes All Before It

(after the painting by Cy Twombly)

Written in fire
sparks fly in chaotic licks
the babble of nations
indiscriminate flares of
history out of control—
so many possibilities
of alphabets and words
improbable futures
struggling to be heard
in stuttering crackles of
flickering flame
before they are
themselves consumed.


TSTmpj:  Fire is such an enduring symbol, dating back to the origins of humankind.  How are you, as a poet, warmed by it?

Neil Ellman:  Not exactly "warmed" but "intrigued" by fire and the notion that the seemingly random licks of a flame might be predictable in some sort of mathematical chaos model—but I'm a poet, not a mathematician.


TSTmpj:  Would you care to offer more thoughts on the concept of "history out of control?"

Neil Ellman:  It seems to me that what we call history is full of distortions and untruths, and that there are many versions of the "facts," whatever they are.  I keep thinking of the line, "History is written by the victors" and wonder if we can ever know historical truth—but I'm a poet, not an historian.


TSTmpj:  Do you see a future of more "alphabets and words," or fewer, in a figurative sense?

Neil Ellman:  No, not much of a future, especially as the world's cultures become increasingly homogenized—but I'm a poet, not a prophet.

Bio Note

Neil Ellman has published more than 300 ekphrastic poems in journals throughout the world—from Australia to Zimbabwe.