Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stuck on the runway - 30/07/2014


My Dad is down
because his boss
(who was a friend)
died recently

He missed the funeral
because of a flight delay

I know this now
because my mother
and my sister told me

when I went around last night
he was (even) more quiet
and withdrawn than usual
barely said hello
or moved from the couch

I tell the whole world
what I masturbate to
or if the coffee is any good

My Dad on the other hand
simply -cannot- tell his own family
when he's feeling sad

There is a generation gap here
you could drive a whole world through
but not get one word squeezed out

between these two men.





Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spells arse with an R - 27/07/2014


poets like to imagine poets
as being way more thoughtful
or adventurous
than poets actually are

aren't even actually
all that poetic





Saturday, July 26, 2014

Minus sixteen days - 27/07/2014


I have paid more attention to the handful of critics encountered,

than the scores of supporters and friends I've made.

Given more currency to hate and petty wounded-ness, than love and intelligence. I regret this.

I wasted a lot of time these past two and a half years, since my last big trip.

I am leaving Melbourne in sixteen days.

I will be taking with me only things that I need.

I don't need bitterness, anymore.





Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Minus nineteen days - 23/07/2014


a cigarette
she tried to not let me see

I caught her
with friends
through this window

mad at her
she looked happy
nineteen days until I leave

I worry about her without me

she might be better


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Cover Story - 22/07/2014


just ordered the next print run of my book
just bought an expensive tent to live in
just ordered another coffee
just lost the page of my cyclists' touring guide
talking about diet, foods and supplies

just got afraid of everything
just wasted another five minutes
staring at Scarlett Johansson's legs
on the magazine cover

just over there on the rack
her vacant face stares blankly back

just what are you going to eat-out there in the desert,
young man?




Friday, July 18, 2014

Bad Day, Carbon Dated - 18/07/2014

I am going home after this

where your repealed carbon-copy
Herald Scum front pages
and homophobic talk back callers
will not be

I am going home
where your irresponsible voters
downed passengers liners
and Palestinian massacres
have no domain

I am going home
to make today ended
find a place divided out
from human

where your drive through
bottle shops
your leashless dogs
and discarded McDonalds wrappers

cannot find me




Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Steve Smart's launch speech for "One For The Road' - 14/07/2014


For Monday night's launch there was simply no question of whom I would ask to do the actual 'launching' speech for me (a book isn't actually "launched" unless someone important says something important about it), the only human who could have possibly done this was Steve Smart.

(Photo by Andrzej Sobieszczuk)

The following is a transcript of his launch speech: 

The history of self-publishing is a rich, albeit chequered one, from cave paintings to Sufi mystics to Queensland action novelist Matthew Reilly.

In 1967 Valerie Solanis self-published her 'Scum Manifesto' in hopes to change the world and its patriarchal ways, or at least get Andy Warhol to pay her some lip service. Andy's lips were apparently busy with more important matters like sucking his own cock. The work reached wider readership when she tried to kill him and has since been reprinted and excerpted many times.

(I'm told the SCUM Manifesto may have been a misunderstood joke - many of Randall's jokes are also misunderstood.)

Through the second half of the 20th century and early part of the 21st Lawrence Ferlinghetti published many of his contemporaries (beats and otherwise) through his City Lights imprint, but also found time to publish his own work to great acclaim. He is widely considered to be one of the finest of the Beat poets. So far as has been recorded Lawrence never tried to kill anyone.

And in the 1700s William Blake eked out a living contributing illustrations, etchings and engravings to other people's literary works, meanwhiles he was often to be found illustrating his own self-published books of poetry, known as 'illuminated books' (a lineage 'One For The Road' continues). Yes, even the author of 'Innocence and Experience' published his own shit! A controversial figure, considered mad during his lifetime, Blake's poetry is now considered to be among the greatest in written history. We're fairly sure William Blake often wanted to kill publishers.

Hmm... So, next time somebody says self-publishing is vanity publishing you may feel free to quote the works of William Blake. And Randall Stephens. Who has probably never tired to kill anyone either, not even me and we were on tour for aaaages.

Randall Stephens is better known as a 'performance poet' or 'slam poet' (which he rightly denies). This diabolical back-handed compliment is supposed to indicate someone whose work does not sit kindly on the page and can only be considered in a more theatrical construct. As you will discover when you buy the book, Randall's work has evolved very strongly on the page. However it is true that his poetic output up to this point has largely been channelled through live performances and audio recordings. He is also a prodigious blogger and often road tests his work on social media. (Yes, that bloody Twitter account.) He has been published in print in Little Raven's online and print anthologies and in Australian Poetry’s online journal Sotto. His first chapbook was supposed to be a split book with local bon vivant Steve Smart entitled 'Fuck These Guys' but due to the pressures of work, travel and an evolving aesthetic FTG was temporarily shelved pending a contextual overhaul. Yep. Well, and there were the death threats... 

And so we come at long last to 'One For The Road', Randall's first collection of poetry. The one before the next one, which he is already working for that will come before the one after that which may or may not be 'Fuck These Guys'. 'One For The Road' is reflective of a more reflective side of Randall's poetic ouvre (Bam!) while still highlighting a number of the poems that make his live show so dynamic. But no dinosaurs or insults about 'your' boyfriend.

From the opening poem 'We'll Always Have Paris', well known to many of you, 'One For The Road' is a series of journeys and of love poems, so often both at once. There is hope and frustration, often both at once, and there is a will to continue, to find meaning. Of course there is anger at times (see Auckland, unless you're from Auckland, in which case you may want to skip to the closing verses of 'Auckland' which will make you want to punch Randall much less; people from Auckland being sometimes a bit touchy about... Auckland) but the anger is tempered with the understanding that things are not always so clear cut and even where it seems unlikely still there are moments that make things less shit.

Following Auckland there is 'In Sydney', which is a balanced view of a city that is often painted in too few shades. Randall captures Sydney in a way that perhaps only a fond outsider can, with many different snapshots making a satisfying whole. From there to Borneo, where the pith helmet makes its first appearance. Thailand, India, Nepal... I'm not going to list all the places 'One For The Road' travels through, or the people that populate them except to say that each one is given its own space, its own focus as part of the whole continuing journey. Taurangan Armpit battle-rams through countries, continents, all the places Randall has been foreign (including Brisbane and Canberra) taking few prisoners and indicating that the planet is not necessarily 'Lonely' so much as dank, sweaty, half-crazed and very loud, but fun at the same time. There are conversations real and imagined, there are moments just staring at one horizon. And there are jokes, oh lord there are some stinkers!!

And yes, there is more of the pith helmet.

This is at its heart not a book of travel poems, because books of travel poems suck, it's a book of personal experiences, of moments that you expand into.

The book ends with a book-end poem, a rejoinder to 'We'll always have Paris', returning home with the sadness that can entail. It's a fitting close to a book of such breadth and a fine poem.

But wait, it ain't over, there's more to come... check out the preview of the next book!

Randall would like to thank Alex Scott for the cover, back and title page photos and Grace Brosnan and Steve Smart for editing assistance.

It's launched, now buy it, or he really will kill the puppy!

For more information on Steve Smart, check out his websitehttp://www.stevesmartpoetry.com/




Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'til all are one - 16/07/2014


If I could somehow go back in time
talk to myself as a child
tell him that in thirty years
I would still be watching
the continuing adventures of Optimus Prime... wow

he would be amazed
in fact he would instantly lose all respect for me
and tell me to fucking grow up

then I would smack him in the ear
and run off with his toys while he's crying
and hope that no one saw me

...smartarse little shit




Monday, July 14, 2014

Paid in Fool -some post-launch thoughts on my poetry's poverty


I know this shouldn't matter, and might be in bad taste to start discussing it, but here goes-  

Thanks to the generous support of people at the launch of my book last night, (between the raffle and the people buying the book), I've made back enough to completely cover the costs of this first print run.

Obviously I am not in this poetry-thing to make money (because no one else at my level/tier behaves as badly as I often do, if they're trying to make a living from it).

Instead, writing for me inhabits spaces somewhere between an itch, an exhaust valve, an outright passion and self therapy.

None of my projects have ever been financially solvent, and the ones that were in danger of getting that way, I ended up giving all the earnings for to charity  -which already includes the next book.) I do it for the love... (which means I do it for attention, basically).

So yeah, didn't expect this, and it does make a difference to me. Contrary to others lofty Utopian ideals of how the world should be, money does make a big-fat difference in people's lives, and as nice as encouraging words are, they don't inspire one to readily take the sort of risks that self-publishing entails. I was pretty bummed about how much $$$ I sank into the album last year for what came of it.

This time around I feel I've learned something, and yes I know I and we all -deserve- to get paid for our art, but getting paid and making money aren't always the same. 

There is a biting-point on those gears, between taking a risk/gamble with large amounts of your hard earned cash, versus investing in something that will bear fruit.

I've earned some income one way or another from poetry since late 2009, but usually it has been far outweighed by costs, time off work, or only come out in the wash after claiming tax exemptions. This is the first time I have clear and away made a profit. (or am at least in a position too, now that any more sales will be in the black.)

Money can be a touchy subject with some, there's a lot of pride to overcome on the artists' side. and a lot of assumptions among the ley that us performers/writers/artist should just be doing it 'for the love'. But as repellant as it might seem to some sensibilities out there, the truth is. Pats on the back and critical acclaim are great, but there's no substitute for getting paid as a form of validation.

So in summation: I just want to say huge a BIG, massive, tidal-gravity-affecting THANK YOU from the man in the pith helmet to everyone who has bought the book and/or came to Passionate Tongues last night. Hopefully you don't end up feeling like you've thrown money away either...


I'd like to do a big proper thank you about the gig, but that will need a day or two to collect my thoughts and let the dust settle. 

Meanwhile, sharp eyed readers might have noticed this morning that I've (finally) added a bio page to the blog page, complete with links and embedded video. If you have a minute, have a look HERE

And also a big ol' BUY NOW button for those of you who would like a copy of this book. Go on, find out what all the fuss is about. 



Saturday, July 12, 2014

Not wanting to move on.


standing here huddled for shelter
just waiting for this storm to pass

it's been thirty four years




Thursday, July 10, 2014

"One For The Road" by Randall Stephens. Book launch on Monday (July 14th 2014)


...in other news, I just finished making a 56 page book of my poetry~ "One For The Road"

21 poems themed around the experience of travelling both home and abroad, collecting a bandwidth of stuff from my salad days being a Randy backpacker (yeah pun intended) through to more recent contemplations of being an affluent Australian in a global context, with lots of humour, anger, romance, adventure and spelling mistakes in between.

I'm going to launch this thing like a rocket. That has another rocket in it. And a launch party inside of that and... ah you get the idea. Well actually I'm not launching it, this mug is-

(if you don't know who this is click on the link, actually if you don't know who that is you wouldn't be reading this.)

Passionate Tongues Poetry
@ The Brunswick Hotel

Monday July 14th - 8pm
140 Sydney Road

Raffle and open mic
(free entry)

I just got them back from the printers. Very exciting.

Facebook event page here : https://www.facebook.com/events/717494448309929/

Hope to see you there!


Before you ask, I haven't figured out how to get it available online for purchase yet. Stay tuned for that.



Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Convinctions - 10/07/2014


I have something to prove

my case is flimsy

most of the evidence
rendered inadmissible
by the judge

prior convictions
won't help me any

and man
are these witnesses hostile or what...




Thursday, July 3, 2014

History-onics - 4/7/2014


I'm chewing through a lot of books and documentaries before I set off on the epic cycling trip across the continent.

I think the reason I never found this history very interesting is because once it's purged of all the genocide, corruption brutality and criminal behaviour (as it was taught to us in school), it was a pretty dull read.Our history is fascinating, but it's shameful and ugly, for being that.

The more I learn about Australian history, the more disconnected I feel from this country. The exact opposite of what I wanted.

Racism is real.

Sexism is real.

White male privilege is real.

I am not, will not, be held guilty. But that doesn't mean I am not have responsibile. Unlike guilt, responsibility is certainly something you can inherit. And I have.

There is a long line of hate, of stupid brutality running from the rum rebellion to turn back the blokes that must end, with me.


. "History is a lie agreed upon"



Next Tuesday - Bar Stanza with Joel McKerrow, Alicia Sometimes and Meaghan Bell -(Tuesday July 8th 2014)


BAR STANZA is (in it's own words) "a night of top notch wordsmithing from the best poets, performers and tale-tellers Melbourne has to offer. Hosted by Anthony WP O'Sullivan in the spectacular venue, The Owl and the Pussycat."

So yeah, Bar Stanza is simply speaking, Melbourne poetry at it's best. No slam, no open mike, just four features in two halves, and a fantastic MC (same format yours truly used at Sweetalkers), and this coming Tuesday, I get a turn at bat.

Owl & The Pussycat, 34 Swan st Richmond

(directly across from Richmond Train Station)


Tuesday July 8th, 7:30 pm

How Much:
$5.00...... FIVE DOLLARS!!

Along with MC Anth, we also have Meaghan Bell, Alicia Sometimes and Joel McKerrow.

More about them (and me) on the Facebook event page HERE

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/BarStanza

I hope to see you seeing me there!