Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Dear Anthony,
Well it’s been a rough week, the twists and turns, the red surprises, the poets swapping sides. Who said the Poetry Wars are over? There’s one thing that steadies the mind, as Yeats says, ‘Fishing is something that can keep a poet’s feet on the ground’. Where’s the ‘goodwill’, where’s the ‘truth’ the poets used to speak about? Where are the young women of the New Lyric now that we could do with some optimistic lines of encouragement? Some are turning away from what they read in these letters as ‘blood and guts’ others think we are taking some kind of drug, or maybe drinking the Black Drops that Sam left in the boat. My arm’s in sling from a fit Wilding threw. When I said he was my only friend, he replied: “Friends, what are they? There are fellow workers, family, teachers and writers. Friends?” He's a ghost of a man now, and sits listening to Waylon Jennings in a darkened room, working out why Frank Moorhouse told him he should listen to Waylon, Willie and the Boys, Nashville Outlaw music, but it’s all beyond Michael, he's looking for irony! 
When I arrived home from my night on the Island with Wilding, our house was littered with crushed VB cans and ashtrays full of butts ground into little piles of zest, a dreadful smell and the howling of two siamese killers. Vicki was standing on the veranda with the proofs of her new book, saying “Who thinks they are publishing this? Who gave them the manuscript? It was Wilding, I know it, the low-slung rat. You once told me that life is not tragic and I believed it for a few months, but you're as bad as Wilding. Both of you haven’t lived. You’ve sold out so many times you don't know what's real anymore.” There were three fishermen there too, drinking and feeling miserable because a school of Waggas had torn their nets to ribbons. Vicki was geeing them up, saying there was going to be a fight on the Island, and they had to help the poets in their bid to rid the river of Waggafish. Grace Perry was there as well, sitting at the kitchen table writing scripts for my Serapax, shaking her head saying “This stuff will kill you Robert, your liver wont take much more of this self-abuse. And don’t ask me about James Dickey, he’s from Buckhead, Georgia. They hold the best bass fishing workshops in the world there, that’s why I’m getting him over to council Les Murray and teach him to throw a spinnerbait. I’m sick of hearing about people who enjoy being in pain, just do it.”

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