Magic moments and fading memory

bugs0a The light! The light!

This morning on my way to coffee this is what I saw:



See also This morning’s light was magic on the photoblog.

bugs0a Fading memory – or the dreaded senior moment

I know I’m not alone in this, but I did have a good example this morning in that uncertain hour before the dawning. (Thanks, TSE. Winking smile)

I was lying there reflecting on the fact that it’s thirty years since the first issue of Neos: Young Writers – as you do!

In September 1981 Rob Duffy (19), John Hawke (15), Michael Stevenson (16) and I (age indeterminate) started Neos Young Writers, a magazine for — you guessed it — young writers. Raina MacIntyre (17) provided some spectacular art-work based on Eliot’s “Gerontion”.

In time other editors joined us: for issue 2 (February 1982) the team was the same. The magazine continued until 1985, published by Gleebooks. Later editors included Gavin Murrell, Richard Allen, Hung Nguyen, Matt da Silva  and Lyneve Rappell. We won a Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Award for service to young Australians, and a Literature Board Grant. We had the odd subscriber in England, Ireland, Italy and the USA! We even score a little entry in The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature (ed.2)….

I was trying to remember the name of the printer. And trying… And trying….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         There’s an M in it. I know! Hey, it’s double-barrelled! No joy. Now the face, that was floating before my mind’s eye as clear as can be, though not quite as on the right – that’s him now, thirty years on, and looking I have to say very well.

After about an hour it came to me: Serge Martich-Osterman! Not just a printer but a martial arts master.

Welcome to Sydney’s leading Shaolin school

Since 1965 at the University of Sydney

Classes & workshops throughout Australia…

for further information contact

Serge Martich-Osterman

The process of dredging up that name was almost physical — would love to see a brain scan of it! But I got there in the end. I don’t always…

Speaking of Neos, I see that old copies go for $15 a pop now! Shame I no longer have any…

John Hawke went on to academia, including a time at the University of Wollongong where he published Australian literature and the symbolist movement in 2009. There have also been poems, but so far no collected work. I wonder if there will be? There was this poem in Jacket, December 2001:


“This ‘peace on earth’ has seen headier days when the sealers and whalers came with their aboriginal women they had torn from their tribes and slaughtered relentlessly the beautiful creatures of the deep.”

— Touring Tasmania, vol.XI.

The lake of charity, the ice-cream sandwiches,
the moulting lagoon: it is all falling
into the past inevitably, like the last
pack of cigarettes you’ll ever buy —
the barbershop reek of the cardboard,
a black metal comb in its milky glass,
the colour that bleaches a neglected letter
dated to the final day. Then the baby is born,
a new calendar of life commences,
yet somewhere it is September 1986,
a white car speeds endlessly through the spinning
night of ragged coastline sea-towns,
past Murder Creek, over Bust-Me-Up Hill,
to the no-time of the eternal casino,
into those infinite bunkered weeks, that basement dark,
the merz that goes without a name.
And I’m feeling sorry for all the noise
beautiful poems will never contain,
because I am ‘modern’ but want to go back
for a few words, not many — that’s selfish,
but when things seem desperate you have to act
some way, and I don’t believe it’s late.
Remember: this is how your parents were
before you were born  —   nostalgia for her
golden body a charm against death,
and too much emotion ever to adequately
deal with or ignore. This makes it
history, but how did we ever get that old,
answering bitterness with tenderness.
In the hamburger warmth of the pinball joint
we shared our flippers, made out
on a midnight slippery-dip, on a Disney ride,
in a maze of mirrors, on a ladder,
by the verdant banks of a tea-coloured river.

Matt da Silva  published some archival photos a while back.


That’s Gavin Murrell and Richard Allen and ? around 1982-3.

One thought on “Magic moments and fading memory

  1. Update on John Hawke. There is a 2012 poem here and John mentions a selected poems — “The Illustrated Library will appear with Salt Press (Cambridge) in 2010.” But it doesn’t seem to have appeared.

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