Poet and Novelist


Sydney Double for Ghost Poets

Double it is, or they are. Alan Fish and M A Carter are happy to announce they will have their first poetry collections launched in Sydney on the weekend. They don't exist. Their books do exist - and Philip Salom (in this blog space, I reserve the right to use a third-person reference just this once) will finally be launching these two poets free of his head. David Musgrave of Puncher & Wattmann has taken on this strange endeavour and has, with his designer Matthew Holt, produced two beautiful books.  Fish and Carter are happy, but invisible. I was going to say they as happy as ghosts but we always imagine ghosts as permanently unhappy (like many poets, come to think of it) and these two are thrilled silly.

They are heteronyms and as such write through quite different personalities. We are each of us different. (Underneath the launch details I will add their back cover blurbs to better describe the poets in a form they have already approved.) 


The Sydney launch is part of the Puncher & Wattmann Xmas party and therefore we are not facing the launch-every-night problem happening in Melbourne at the moment. The Melbourne launch will be in warmer (in weather) but cooler (in book launch) February. And I will blog again to announce that. Plus use Facebook, and email. Simon West's new book is also being launched at the P&W party. Quite a day.

Saturday, December 10

The Friend in Hand Hotel, 58 Cowper St, Glebe. From 3.30pm.


Alan Fish was writing poetry before his life went dark. He let it collect like a tank of rain-water. His subject matter? Love and death. His poetry is deeply haunted and lyrical in its privacy but also ironically observant and public – after all, he is not only a lover, but a flaneur. He can snap his fingers. He can play Go. There has always been a largely hidden group of closet poets, people who read and write in private. Poetry knows this and addresses them tacitly as its own, but sometimes such a poet says enough, grabs the poems and speaks back. Alan Fish left his basement in the Print Room, left his Keepers behind him and struck out on his own. His work is seriously beautiful, or beautifully serious, in its imagery and shadows; he is in some ways lost, but he is no push-over. He is to one side of the optimists. He is addicted to free verse couplets. As the cliche says: a compelling new voice. Listen.

[For most of his life Alan Fish has lived in Melbourne and though he spent several years on a small orchard in rural Victoria he doesn't go in for the "I have two dogs and live on the coast in a corrugated-iron beach-shack" kind of bio. His poems have appeared in print but he isn't widely published in journals or on avant garde websites and he hasn't won numerous literary awards in obscure towns or at small agricultural shows. He does keep fish and realises this sounds silly.] 


A new poet on the block, MA Carter is uncaring of the niceties and the pat expressions of much poetry within the status quo – instead, Carter is mordant, immoderate, opinionated and likely to offend. He writes in a style that is distinctly musical and even lyrical but his observations stray wildly and eccentrically from the expected. His poems don't mind being rude, or chauvinistic, even a bit scary. He admits this will not make him popular or admired, but he doesn't care for popular or admired, he prefers to say what he thinks and be done with it. Until the next poem, that is. Carter thinks poetry plays safe, is less about integrity than it sounds, and is more about wooing the reader with phony affectations – those sequences of cliched and rhetorical love poems, nature musings with poets too fond of themselves ... or self-congratulatory claims to ethics, books obsessed with the politics or landscape or both. MA Carter makes claims too, ironic, false claims usually. But what a bracing thing this is. What fun. Read him now.

[MA Carter resides in Melbourne and has the upper floor of an apartment to himself. He and his sister Mary keep two cats who often sit, as he notes, "like apostrophes" on either side of him. His work has been read in public very occasionally and there is a very brief publication online, but he hasn't been published widely in journals, nor in haiku form all over the world, and nor has he been translated into twelve languages. This is his first major collection but won't be his last if he can help it. His other profession is not stated though he admits to being a stirrer.]