Sydney-Adelaide roadtrip

I flew to Sydney for the launch of CARTE BLANCHE on Saturday, 20 July. After the launch at Mothership Studios, Marrickville, I had the chance to drive back from Sydney to Adelaide: a two-day, 1,375 kilometre (855 mile) journey by car, through the Great Dividing Range, and across the plains of New South Wales’ Riverina region and the Mallee districts of Victoria and South Australia.

Thom Sullivan Sydney to Adelaide

Much of the journey I knew only from imprecise childhood memories (the Dog on the Tuckerbox, 5 or 9 miles from Gundagai – depending on whether you reference the poem ‘Bullocky Bill’, the later Jack Moses poem, or the Jack O’Hagan song), or through particular contemporary poems. I think of Geoff Page’s poem ‘Hay to Balranald’: ‘Heading west all afternoon the curvatures can still surprise you. / You might as well be out at sea; the skyline is a perfect circle. […] All afternoon forgetting physics / you drive into the sky.’

Or there’s Mike Ladd’s poem ‘Out of Balranald, just on dusk’: ‘Now the last light catches old fridges on their plain of resurrection – / a voice says ‘I AM’ from a burning roly-poly bush […] Kenworths and Macks in their prides / roaring down the gears through the drowse of distant towns.’ It’s an experience of a distinctively Australian Sublime – horizontal and understated, rather than vertical and imposing – as alluded to in On the Hay Plain, a radio episode about the ‘big sky country’ surrounding Hay, written and produced by Ladd.

I took photos regularly during the portions of the trip when I wasn’t driving. None has any artistic intent: they were captured only as aide-mémoires. They document something of the journey and the incremental changes in the landscape: green hills, grasslands, riverine plains, dry creeks, brown rivers, river red gums, woodlands of black box and grey box, dry lake beds, sheep, cattle, roadkill kangaroos, saltbush, grain crops, a crop fire, silos, siding towns, salt flats, mallee roadsides, and semi-trailers – and kilometre after kilometre of white-lined bitumen, varying in colour from dark grey to soft grey to ochre.

Of course, ‘experiencing’ a landscape while driving through it at 110 kilometres per hour is little better than watching it on TV. In both cases we sit in a comfortable chair, watching images flash past on a (wind)screen. Nonetheless.

PSX_20190728_032606

Mascot, Sydney, NSW.

PSX_20190728_034625

Hume Highway, Oakdale, NSW.

PSX_20190728_032810

Federal Highway, Lake George, NSW.

PSX_20190728_032927

The Nation’s Capital, ACT.

PSX_20190728_034508

Barton Highway, Jeir, NSW.

PSX_20190728_034407

Hume Highway, Coolac, NSW.

PSX_20190728_033102

Hume Highway, Tumblong, NSW.

PSX_20190728_041541

Hume Highway, Mount Adrah, NSW.

PSX_20190728_032308

Morning fog, Murrumbidgee River, Wagga Wagga, NSW.

PSX_20190728_032202

Sturt Highway, Sandigo, NSW.

PSX_20190728_034202

Sturt Highway, Sandigo, NSW.

PSX_20190728_032038

Crop fire, Sturt Highway, Maude, NSW.

PSX_20190728_034023

Sturt Highway, Keri Keri, NSW.

PSX_20190728_033929

Sturt Highway, Yanga, NSW.

PSX_20190728_031846

Sturt Highway, Yanga, NSW.

PSX_20190728_041021

Balranald Tooleybuc Road, Balranald, NSW.

PSX_20190728_033806

Bridge over the Murray River, Tooleybuc, NSW/VIC.

PSX_20190728_033442

Mallee Highway, Manangatang, VIC.

PSX_20190728_031539

Mallee Highway, Ouyen, VIC.

PSX_20190728_033329

Mallee Highway, Parrakie, SA.

Launch: CARTE BLANCHE

Thom Sullivan Carte Blanche

This Saturday, 20 July 2019, my debut book of poems will be launched at Mothership Studios, at 18-22 Sydney Street, Marrickville, Sydney, from 2:30-4:30pm, along with new books of poems by Peter Boyle, Natalie Harkin, and L.K. Holt. Sydneysiders are welcome to attend. Copies of CARTE BLANCHE will be available at the launch, and are available already from vagabondpress.net, along with all of Vagabond Press’s 2019 releases – books by Peter Boyle, a.j. carruthers, Toby Fitch, Natalie Harkin, L.K. Holt, and Jessica L. Wilkinson. A launch in my home city, Adelaide, will follow. Further details soon.

New poem in ‘The Sky Falls Down’

Thom Sullivan Cut

I’m delighted to have my poem ‘Cut’ published in the newly released The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of LossThe anthology includes work by 89 writers – both poetry and prose – including poems by Ali Cobby Eckermann, Adrienne Eberhard, Quinn Eades, Lucy Dougan, Kevin Gillam, Alex Skovron, and fellow South Australian poet Jules Leigh Koch. Editors Terry Whitebeach and Gina Mercer have been at work on the anthology since at least 2014, and it’s recently found its way into the world. The Sky Falls Down (308pp) is available from Ginninderra Press

Monuments [a landscape]

35°06’44.1”S  138°53’17.9”E

35°08’43.6”S  138°53’27.3”E

35°08’16.4”S  138°56’12.4”E

35°09’40.4”S  138°58’29.0”E

35°10’26.3”S  138°59’23.0”E

35°11’01.3”S  139°00’11.7”E

35°09’29.8”S  139°01’10.5”E

35°09’15.5”S  139°01’32.7”E

35°08’23.1”S  139°01’42.4”E

35°06’42.1”S  139°02’14.8”E

35°07’08.0”S  138°59’21.9”E

35°05’55.2”S  139°00’08.8”E

35°05’50.4”S  139°00’09.2”E

35°03’51.5”S  138°55’15.0”E

35°04’51.9”S  138°55’05.6”E

35°06’04.8”S  138°54’03.7”E

35°06’05.5”S  138°53’58.4”E

35°06’48.1”S  138°54’25.0”E

35°07’x0.1”S  138°54’x5.4”E

 

After Richard Long’s ‘A Ten Mile Walk England’ (1968)

Available now: CARTE BLANCHE

Sullivan_cover_1024x1024

CARTE BLANCHE, my debut collection of poems, is available now from Vagabond Press, as a softcover and a limited edition hardcover.

Along with CARTE BLANCHE, Vagabond Press has released its full suite of 2019 Australian poetry titles, including new books of poetry by Peter Boyle, a.j. carruthers, Toby Fitch, L.K. Holt, Jessica L. Wilkinson, and fellow South Australian poet Natalie Harkin. Readers of Australian poetry are well served by our best publishers and the quality of books they produce. Even in that esteemed company, Michael Brennan of Vagabond Press has achieved something special with the presentation of these books.

Vagabond Press has a great history of publishing Australian poetry, dating back to 1999, but uniquely among Australia’s poetry presses, it’s also known for its books of poetry in translation – including the work of poets from Europe, the Asia Pacific and the Americas.

Mixtape, June 2019

When Rilke penned the lines: ‘Music. The breathing of statues. Perhaps: / The quiet of images. You, language where / languages end’ (from ‘To Music’) he was certainly thinking more of Mozart or Monteverdi than of Mumford & Sons. Notwithstanding, this is my ‘mixtape’ for the first half of 2019 – things old, new, borrowed, etcetera – arranged roughly in the order in which I became enamoured or re-enamoured of them. Nothing too uppity or grandiose, except maybe the first one.

  1. Nils Frahm’s Toilet Brushes (live) (2013)
  2. Ben Howard’s Small Things (2014)
  3. Ben Howard’s End of the Affair (live) (2014) 
  4. Big Red Machine’s Lyla (2018) 
  5. Kaleo’s Save Yourself (2016)
  6. Chet Faker’s Talk is Cheap (2014)
  7. Gregory Alan Isakov’s San Luis (2018)
  8. Gregory Alan Isakov’s cover of Iron & Wine’s The Trapeze Swinger (2015)
  9. Thom Yorke’s Bloom (live) (2019)
  10. Thom Yorke’s Unmade (live) (2019)
  11. Boy & Bear’s cover of Empire of the Sun’s Walking on a Dream (live) (2011)
  12. The Reindeer Section’s Cartwheels (2002)
  13. Elbow’s Mirrorball (2008)
  14. WATT!’s Santa Monica (2018)
  15. WATT!’s Deutscher Herbst (2018)
  16. Tales’ So Blue (2018)
  17. Bon Iver’s Calgary (live) (2016) 
  18. Mogli’s cover of Bon Iver’s Holocene (live) (2018)
  19. Radiohead’s The Numbers (live) (2016)
  20. The National’s Light Years (2019)
  21. Calexico and Iron & Wine’s Midnight Sun (2019)
  22. Lambchop’s Everything for You (2019)
  23. The Cinematic Orchestra’s Lessons (2019)
  24. Black English’s Leave the Door Wide Open (2014)
  25. Fontaines DC’s Hurricane Laughter (2019)