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We Will Disappear: the First Anniversary!

It’s a quiet kind of milestone but my book We Will Disappear was launched one year ago this weekend at the Melbourne Writers Festival. Quiet in the sense that I am about ten thousand miles from this year’s MWF, where some class acts and friends will be performing at the MWF Festival Club and elsewhere; a milestone in the sense that one year is a heck of a long time in the life of anyone and everyone, let alone a book. Anyway, just when I was beginning to think that We Will Disappear had fulfilled the prophecy of its own title and had quietly disappeared from the world of people and books, I got a message from an old friend saying:

I bought your book of poems in Brunswick Street last week. I’m really enjoying it. I like the one for the unknown waitress.

And you know, of course this made me feel a lot better. So for those who missed it, here’s “(On the Tomb of) the Unknown Waitress”. Happy birthday “We Will Disappear”!

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Bonfire of the Vanity Presses

My article on self-publishing, entitled “Bonfire of the Vanity Presses” has been published in the latest issue of the Weekend Australian. Unlike the review of my book We Will Disappear, which was published last weekend, this one is available online and you can read the whole thing, in all its ragged glory, here.

As is often the case, I now find myself unable to read the article itself, mainly due to the fact that I wrote it at least six months ago and I’m no longer sure what I was thinking about back then. In addition, the argument I make, which was at the time central to my PhD thesis, has now been superseded. Or maybe I’m just trying to have a bet both ways.

Nevertheless, as it’s an article written as part of the Weekend Oz’s “Forum” (aka “What Cheeses Me Off”), I suppose one should read it as an attempt to be provocative, and to generate discussion. Which is a shame, as there’s no opportunity for others to do so via the News Limited website.

I did notice, however, that the’ve installed a neat little set of buttons whereby “you can use the Social Web links to save Bonfire of the vanity presses to a social bookmarking site”. So, here’s hoping somebody does.

Your comments are of course welcome here, as ever.

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We Will Disappear reviewed in the Weekend Oztraylian!

My debut poetry collection We Will Disappear has been reviewed in the Weekend Australian, alongside Event, the debut collection from Judith Bishop. The review, by Justin Clemens, was positive about both books, so I’m thrilled! Here’s a snippet:

If Bishop favours the high aesthetic road, Prater — editor of the online journal Cordite Poetry Review — prefers the mass-media superhighway. We Will Disappear pops and buzzes with references to drugs (Dexedrine, grass and cigarettes), military hardware (atom bombs, Semtex, F-15s and Minutemen) and virulent diseases (SARS), not to mention communications technologies, both current and defunct (satellites, radio, daguerreotypes and computer coding). Relentlessly racy, Prater hits hard and fast in his attempts to keep up with the wrenching juggernaut of our times.

Justin Clemens

Woot!

I’ve just checked out Judith’s website and while I think it’s fair to say we’re very different poets, it’s nice to see a review of two books by people born in 1972 in Australia’s only national newspaper! Oh, and in the Year of the Rat, too!

I just wish the Oztraylian would post the review on their website, so that I could link to it. Personally, I had to go through Swinburne’s library homepage to get to it. In any case, I assume a copy of the full review will be available on the papertiger media website in due course.

UPDATE: One other double-plug I forgot to mention before comes from the avant-garde online poetry journal foam:e. In its latest issue, guest editor Louise Waller notes:

Unfortunately foam:e received more books than it is possible to review this issue, but I would like to suggest David Prater’s We Will Disappear published by soi 3 modern poets, and Sue Stanford’s Opal, published by Flat Chat Press are well worth a read.

Thanks Louise! And I can heartily recommend foam:e to all good poets!

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“Secret Lives of the Colonial Poets”

The news may well be out of the bag but in any case, I’m very excited to say that I’ve been successful in obtaining funding from Arts Victoria to develop a new collection of poems, based on correspondence between Australian poet Bernard O’Dowd and American bard Walt Whitman.

The correspondence (which has been preserved in the State Library of Victoria and also published in Overland magazine) is notable both for Whitman’s brevity (he was, after all, on his death bed), as for O’Dowd’s idolisation of the man he calls ‘master’, and once even ‘comrade’.

O’Dowd was a peculiar old bird. He loved Whitman so much that he made a special cabinet in which to place all of his published works. It too is preserved in the State Library in Melbourne. The first letter he wrote to Whitman he never actually sent, and no wonder – it’s acutely embarrassing. Nevertheless it is from this letter that much of my initial inspiration for this project stemmed.

The collection, whose provisional title is Secret Lives of the Colonial Poets, will be largely concerned with the inner thoughts of some of Australia’s colonial rhymesters, including (but not limited to) O’Dowd, Adam Lindsay Gordon, Henry Kendall and other poets whose work has been anthologised and whose major output occurred prior to Federation (ie before 1901).

Call me a weirdo, call me what you will, I just want to bring sexy back to the colonial days. I just want to get inside the mind of a man like O’Dowd who wore a leaf of grass on his jacket as a form of homage to the bearded one. I guess I just want to disappear inside the words and thoughts of these strange, almost forgotten fellow-weirdos.

What’s exciting about the funding is (obviously) the chance it gives me to spend some time developing a new body of work; but I’m also flattered to be included in the same round (see link above) as the frontman of The Fauves, Andrew Cox, who has received funding for a solo project. I was lucky enough to interview Coxy for Cordite several years ago, and his answers to my nerdy poet’s questions were both generous and fascinating.

Anyway, I’m not due to start working on the project until April (by which time I will probably have changed my modus operandi entirely) however just as a taster I’d like to share with you one of the poems I included in the funding application. Of course, it’s a draft but I’m hoping to write in this kind of vein throughout the period in which I’m funded so here goes.

O’DOWD ZERO

& you make the leaves of grass & of the trees
speak for themselves! great scald of demos i
am yours oh master bending down to me! like
a tree of man & of men (mighty rivers flowing
through your poems & the day like a dripping
tap & i a drum that tap will fill with a restless
spirit stranded here beneath the reeds on the
river’s bank & there we shall walk my prophet
after you have dunked my head & blessed it
made me drink the brown river waters silted
by imperial drones the fury of our resistance
master! none shall stand before us (tho none
be in danger from our gentle hands apostles
walking together our hands brushing gently
the grasses rushes our secret lives rising up
like nations to be counted among the new &
old this new democracy! of our own making!
bard of wisdom & of long summer days alone
in libraries lit by a stained glass sun reading
from your poems arrayed in battle formations
line after line of soldiers’ language & orders
tho not from on high the master’s commands
we cannot hear for the rushing sound of that
river finally leaping free of drought (old grey
father of my new religion one of men & words
that flow like rivers of milk from the trunks of
she-oaks river gums as swarms of bees attack
pollen seas & our fingers sticky with that love

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Morgenland chapbook out now!

Even as the dust begins to settle on We Will Disappear, there’s no time for a busy poet like me to rest. I’m proud to announce that I’ve got a new chapbook out through the highly-esteemed Vagabond Press, whose editor Michael Brennan runs the Poetry International Australia website, and who is, by the way, a very cool guy.

The chapbook is called Morgenland and it contains 19 poems. It’s published in traditional A5 format, with a nice cream cover and a unique photo/image by Kay Orchison gracing the cover. I’ll post a reproduction of the image here soon. At 24 pages, it’s apparently one of the longest Vagabond Rare Objects chapbooks ever, but don’t let that fool you. Only 100 copies of this little gem have been produced, and each one has been signed and numbered by moi.

This makes Morgenland one of the rarest objects in my (currently flimsy) back-catalogue, so if you’d like to snap up one of my copies, then be fast. I only have ten of these to sell, and at AUD$12 (including postage and handling within Australia), that’s a frickin steal.

To reserve your copy, leave a comment (see link above) and be sure to include your email address so I can get back to you. Otherwise you can email me on davey [squiggle] daveydreamnation {dot} com. For those who are too slow, check back on eBay in a couple of years and get ready to seethe.

Most of the poems were written while undertaking an Asialink residency at Sogang University, Seoul in 2005. You can view the complete set of Morgenland drafts online here. These poems should not be confused with my Imaginary Cities: PC Bangs project which is still in the publishing wilderness, but which I know will one day find a home befitting its quirkiness.

Track listing:

ALONE IN AN AIRPORT II
JETLAG WORLD
SOUND OF VITALITY
WHITE SPACE
SNOW GROCER
HOJU BIHANG-GI
NAGASAKI CROWS
TRANS*
THE HANOK FIELDS
DRUNK AS KO UN
MAKKOLLI MOON
MOKOCHUKCHA
SAIHOU JODO
IMAGINARY MAO
SNOW SEA SWAN
LONELY PLANET
ICEBERGS
MORIAPO
BACK TO THE TOURIST III

Liner notes:

An earlier version of ‘Alone In An Airport II’ appeared in this chapbook’s companion volume Abendland (self-published, 2006). ‘Hoju Bihang-gi’ first appeared online in Peril. ‘Back to the Tourist III’ first appeared online in Softblow.

Thank you Nikki Anderson, Michael Brennan, Keiji Minato, An Sonjae, Sang Kee Park, Joseph, Tan, Larissa Hjorth, Alexie Glass, Moon Sun Choi, Joo Young Lee, Kathleen Asjes, Anouk Hoare, Andrew Cook, Sean Heaney, Hiroshi Sasaki, Steve Riddell, Kevin Puloski, Young Eun Pae and Bridget O’Brien. Thanks also to the Australia Council for the Arts and the Australia-Korea Foundation for their generous support.

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We Will Disappear: the second review!

Poet, criminologist, anti-fascist and paranoia merchant alicia sometimes has written and recorded a bulk ace review of my book for ABC Radio National’s The Book Show. Click here for transcript and audio. Here’s a taster of what she has to say:

One striking thing about this collection is how deeply Prater is influenced by the internet and the various dialects and languages that emerge within this medium. He seems driven to mash language, experimenting with HTML and modern computer language. This could easily be cliche but Prater makes this process electric. Prater says his poems are similar to hyperlinks that teleport the reader quickly to somewhere else. Instead of clicking a mouse, he wants you to see one image or word or phrase and transport you to another poem or another place as easily as it can in be achieved in the cyber world. This is a bold statement but one I expect from the playful and experimental Prater. To measure the truth in this statement is difficult. In ‘Search Poem #9’, he writes that he is ‘viewing in google page rank order’. This poem is a mess of words that would seem at home in email spam headers and indeed the first line of each Google search finding. But he is also commenting on the web as machine, the internet as the impersonal and the idiosyncrasies of each user. As editor of the online literary magazine Cordite, Prater would be exposed to all styles of web poetry and the problems and eccentricities associated with it. The collection ends with the piece ‘5 Haiku SMS’ playing around with the modern speech of texting as the new haiku. Here again he is both ironic and commentator all at once.

Aww, shucks. It’s a crime wave, move on!

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We Will Disappear: the first review!

In somewhat amazing news, Cordite has just published a double review of We Will Disappear and MTC Cronin’s book (we recently also published a single review of Barry Hill’s book).

I should point out that the review was not commissioned, edited or posted by me but by our reviews editor, Ali Alizadeh. Further, the review itself was written by Ryan Scott, a Czech-Republic based poet whom I have never met or corresponded with. Still, I feel a slight twinge of discomfort and potential embarrasment to see a review of my own book in a journal of which I am the Managing Editor.

While it’s not quite in the same league as Walt Whitman writing reviews of his own book, Leaves of Grass, under false names and then using these reviews to create testimonials, it’s still, well, a bit strange. What do you think?

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We Will Disappear: The Fallout Continues

Click here to see images from the MWF launch!

For those of you who like to gawk at Flickr streams, click on the above image to be instantly transported to a series of images from the Melbourne launch of We Will Disappear, courtesy of photographer Macushla Burke.

The latest issue of papertiger media’s Tiger Talk newsletter also includes some details from the recent Soi3 book launches. First of all, here’s what Paul and Marissa have to say about the MWF launch:

Continue reading We Will Disappear: The Fallout Continues