Art Interviews

Interview with Ray Caesar

Interview with Ray Caesar by Bareknuckle Poet

From The Archive
Ray, thank you for taking the time for this interview. For those who don’t know you, tell us a bit about your background and how you came to be making art for a living.

Well! I started out going to school and working as a architect then somehow got into medical graphics and later in life worked for several years in animation and special effects. In between all that I have done questionable things like the time I sold pantyhose as a sideline business and a serious attempt at becoming a MUFON investigator ( Mutual UFO Network ). I spent 17 years working in a Children’s hospital and I suppose that’s why I am making these images today. I saw so much in that place that I can hardly talk or think about it without becoming emotional. I hated making art for so many years, It never occurred to me to show it in a gallery and I didn’t even want to put it up on my own wall. The act of making it was not pleasant but for some reason it was an obsession. I made a valiant attempt to quit and was doing quite well when My mother, Sister passed away from Cancer a few years ago. Now I had always had strange dreams and used to talk to people who apparently weren’t there when I was a kid but all that started happening again especially after the death of my Mother. She was always a bit strange and if anyone could find a way to come back and scare the shit out of me she was the one to do it. Anyway I started making pictures again and contacted a gallery for the first time on a whim. Now I am making art for a living…I guess my Mom was right after all…trust her to have the last word.

As those familiar with you and your work know, you were born a dog – what was it like for a dog at art school, and today, do you experience any ill treatment for being a dog in the often ‘dog eat dog’ world of the creative arts? Have you been bitten?

Yes! I was born in the year of the dog, 1958 in South London, my family was exiled from England for displeasing the Royal family.
Art school was a long time ago for me and all I do remember is that it didn’t go to well…all I can remember is that there were a lot of “Hippies” and that it is dangerous to run while wearing bellbottoms. The “Dog eat Dog” world of art certainly applies to the film industry, I worked for a some years in Special Effects for film and TV and I never saw such a cut throat business full of some rather crazy aggressive people whom I still love…I had a really good time though and recommend it as a career choice to anyone.

I have bitten more than I have been bitten but then who hasn’t bitten or been bitten, Its not the bite but the bark that scares me…bites heal but words stay with you.

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Poetry

Brett Dionysius ~ Six Poems

F IRST PUBLISHED BY RETORT MAGAZINE, ON MAY 22ND, 2004

poems from The Sprung HistoriesBrett-Dionysius

(xi) Andre the Giant

Hulk proportioned, minus the green tinge, how does a mother feed ten children in one? More than “stinking meat” to his fans – big boned teenage boys parking car noses with milk can muscles, tuned into Sat arvos & WWF match ups against Big John Stud; the pallid collapse of dead flesh. Smoothed over asexual hideousness in obese Western boys.

As (you) wish?

A giant’s final poetry. Hidden behind the cheeses & wine at the cave’s end, A Princess Bride. His lines ended in The Simpson’s mockery, celebrity funerals we hardly knew him.

Wait a minute…has anybody got a peanut?

(xii) Vivian Bullwinkle

They who save lives can never understand how they are taken. Tide pull of khaki men & rigid ammo belts so anti-cummerbund. Quick as dance steps, counter-sprung floors of golden sand, death’s a stage trapdoor for most, nurses, soldiers & salt coffins soak up jungle’s exhausted heat. Stay dead by your sisters till the sun’s blood pressure drops.

We want (you) as a new recruit.

Live to tell the tale. Escape, be captured again, keep the secret inside you in utero. Let history write you out, become someone’s footnote in his or her thesis & pass.
Decline that Australian beach obsession.

(xiii) Pyrrhus

A womaniser of kingdoms, flitted from one engagement to another, draining dowries like uncut wine in the post-Alexandrian classical age carve up. Frenetic, pinball wizard with sword for hire, undiagnosed ADD child opened negotiations for Greece Pty. Ltd. to become a Roman subsidiary. Tactical dervish bewildered legions, phalanxes, wives, rules.

Have (you) had a pyrrhic victory?

A chaotic end was justified: some sideshow in Argos & a well-timed roof tile thrown by the Argives’ best old woman. Hit the mark too, ended his career as military magician.

Everyone’s ambition: become an adjective.

(xiv) Leni Reifenstahl

Susan Sontag dissed her. Took stock footage of the twentieth century’s sculptured, athletic, Nazi iconography & documented eugenics think tank – not a big fish as nutters go but someone had too break UFA’s glass ceiling: detect professional jealousy? Leni, more googled? Bra ads, new totalitarianism these days: vis a vis fascism from girls is okay?

Triumph of (you)r will.

Our culture’s body language still defers to Hitler. In photos & essays he still dominates! Should have photographed the abominable snowman instead; shot warm & fuzzy hues.

Alas, “Every woman adores a fascist”, sad, but true.

(xvii) Forty Seven Ronin

The house of Asano spilled its guts over an impromptu dais after its true samurai spirit hacked at the protocol droid’s head. The shogunate palace so…Jabba the Hutt’s smugglers lair diorama with action figures & C3PO left in shiny bronze bits again. Pop culture’s ritual suicide began in 18th century Kill Bill fashion. History folded like hot steel.

What code do (you) follow?

Kira’s coal blackened head sat up as funeral bust on Asano’s grave. A treasury of loyal hearts disembowelled snowflake bellies melting over floors & performing arts turned on.

Cinema is so much BS (bushidõ).

(xviii) Donald Campbell

Bluebird pushed envelope of sixties’ plastic Beatles wig style curvature to the limit. In pre – ‘extreme games’ age of aggressive backyard hobbies & elbow grease, world marks broken as sound barriers or peace treaties. Jets ruled in air & on water, bombing & speed records tumbled in Asia, Australia, azure kingfishers skimmed salt lakes path finding for glory.

(You) steer a boat through its arse.

He ended as blue heron; photo stills & airborne poetry. Cut the meniscus of speed
& water on Lake Coniston & two years later they rehydrated his body re: Sea Monkey.

Sixties lesson: don’t screw up your nose at anything.

© Brett Dionysius

B. R. Dionysius directed the Queensland Poetry Festival from 1997-2001 and is currently the editor of papertiger: new world poetry #04. In 1998 he was awarded the Harri Jones Memorial Prize for Poetry by the University of Newcastle. He has co-authored an artists’ book, The Barflies’ Chorus (Lyre Bird Press, 1995) and two solo collections of poetry, Fatherlands (Five Islands Press, 2000) and Bacchanalia (Interactive Press, 2002). He won the ‘Best Unpublished Poetry Manuscript – Queensland category’ in the IP Picks 2002 Awards for Bacchanalia, was short-listed in the 2002 Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize for Fatherlands. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.

 

 

Poetry

Ian McBryde ~ Three Poems

PUBLISHED BY RETORT MAGAZINE, ON FEBRUARY 18TH, 2004

Under Pink TrianglesIan-McBryde

Spent, one of the senior Kapos withdraws
from the prisoner’s mouth, and fills
the young man’s hand with crusts of bread.

In the unlit latrine, after the Kapo leaves,
the prisoner washes out his mouth, spits
repeatedly, then eats the dry and brittle husks.

The others dream fitfully on their thin mattresses

of straw. These extra crusts will keep him alive
through the day that awaits him, every hour

knowing that again tonight as the others sleep,
after midnight, the Kapo will be back, smiling,
trousers unbuttoned, more bread in his hand.

SS Banquet, Treblinka

Mein Gott this is most disagreeable. These chimneys
pervade and stain even the atmosphere of the dining hall.
Surely some method could be invented to make that stink
flow downwind and away. Under such circumstances
no gentleman could fully enjoy this well-prepared repast.
See that the problem is addressed. Until then, more
of this fine wine? Fruit salad? Some cognac? A cigar?

Hesse at Spandau

On film decades later,
ancient, gummy-mouthed,
eyebrows alive, you shuffle
up a path at Spandau.

Alone in this prison within
a prison you still serve as
scapegoat for kammeraden
long-released. A ghost

in the garden, you watch
the cameras warily, like
the cameras once watched
you standing by your god,

echoing his sentences,
guarding his back, marching
three respectful paces
behind him, to the right.


© Ian McBryde

 

Poetry

Michael Farrell ~ Five Poems

 PUBLISHED BY RETORT MAGAZINE, ON DECEMBER 9TH, 2003

grunge obsessionmichael-farrell

try

the picture left us unimpressed shattering

cannibals apparently

just like our fountain

a lowclass ape

which

the city of lessons

girlism

got him to clean up for once

all i knows been exaggerated

badges worn just for the shine

flying

meant being mistaken for a ghost

& not coming out for coffee

left their hair shower wet

quiet

youll scare it

with the sunrise

for the bourgeoisie for     them only when things change they change for them for          the dust in their poc    kets & the feelings of life  down like water blue & rocking no          thing anyone could take of                 fence at for them for you at           the end at the last the          sack the     sex the boot are involved go            ing on like     cows to their deaths the          tracks you find the dry leaves a sense of          being found a secret now          only some can hold before           the idee fixe          arrives people just need a           shove a few days in a cage with   seed & water or flocking           together all jaundiced in the     rainy season some kinds of confor          mity are free          dom change for them for the ings of life down like water blue          &          roc          king nothing a could take offence at for     them for you at the end          at the last the sack the are involved going on like tracks you find the dry leaves a sense of now only idee fixe arrives few days in a cage with gether all jaundiced in on some kinds of conformity are them only when things for the dust in their          anyone could take offence at the end at the last the sack the are          in          volved going on like cows to their leaves a sense of being found a        dee fixe arrives people          just need a shove a few days in a cage with seed & jaundiced in the rainy season conformity are freedom for the only when things change they change their pockets & the feelings of life king anyone could take          the last the ved going on like cows to their leaves a sense secret now only some can hold be ple just need a shove a few days in a cage flocking together all the rainy season for the bo only when things change they change for          water blue & rocking one could take offence at for the end at the last the sack the ing on like cows to their deaths the tracks ing found a se      cret now only           some can hold before the idee fixe arrives          ter or floc    king toge   ther all jaundiced kinds of conformi          dom them only change for them for the dust in their po

colt figure

there wanting to join the herd for
kept behind barbed wire these are the
a month for a break from monotony
is riding water & rails the weight
that would pass if they kept reading
terminally potent on the screen the long

evolution a race against punctuation
like a neigh its suicidal
like beckett as they starve
painting a backing for white
with hair down there wanting
at thirteen for a coven
these are the notes needing
weak a tempting lifestyle returning
understand you understand the hand
the weight of one who
pass if they kept reading

are so their impotency becomes terminally potent on
a race against punctuation its writing real water
sweet singing like a neigh its suicidal country
just a vision of poets forced into the
all they see & oats are all their
vb foaming with hair down there wanting to
home at thirteen for a coven used to
are the notes needing a whip to breathe
tempting lifestyle returning to the city once a

you understand the hand that threatens that outflanks
need for an image that would pass if
in horses thats what their wordless hearts are
long distorted video face reads out the lines

water with ophelias head in it
but for us its just a
oats are all they see &
storm my neck like a vb
sex only the queer look brought
behind barbed wire these are the

on the remaindered books pity the
re or just juiced phones arent
understand the hand that threatens that
& rails the weight of one
they create their own death in
the screen the long distorted video

in the reflection reared
up a painting for
up hippies leaving home
naked group ritual &
being kept behind barbed
breaking away & stamping
getting re or just
my thing callers get
defensive this for the
few that understand you
this is riding water
would feel mine the
lyricism the individual need
like hungers they create
that evoke an evolution
she was often in
the stables her sweet
try galloping on the
eroding icy trails malaparte
knows but for us
lake by soldiers collaborating
at last looking like
& their hair freezes
authentic philosophers at last
memories & texts in

honkytonk

the trouble in his study the bright contemplation of the
brilliant evil mo-ment – the trivia and satire, psychology of a
drug called books and a tape recorder his experience. is
the active American for centuries – the quality of yet is
less toxic resist one of those weaknesses the moment a
switchboard in the Buick on surgical duty, junkies in messages
by members of at least waiting for me in conversation
never read, in the field. almost, where My experience &
all other close musicians, at least fighters, who feel for
taking will do in the Scotch whiskey. in the contemplation
some-times. Sometimes disorderly handsome exaggerated burns had caused. as

an

ash so that checked out in a room there, they
would all afternoon stare at a tape recorder. a lot
to show There under mere life work, reluctant & try
Some eyesight. in California, so the closest in the corridor
was entering who were the sun. What is due
to suggesting anything to identify), probably musca- effect their basic
in the deal more sweet talking slips the moon years
ago lose nearly five using the winter. some- in relation
to the east; Police on this incident if they get
lost.” a watch London & streets. London, buildings ramble a
few of all odd, of all solitary taller hills.” felt,
reminder, water,

girl from mars

by the window straw falling from her hair her air
,
then she would disappear when we would try out

our sympathy & lose interest in our other class

es it became a quip thats nothing read though
,
there they have no light & the two became con
,                         .
flated in my mind & others too id guess who
,
elsed write it down the rest were all in ban
,
ds & smoking dope they kept studying like it

was a part of them they could switch on &
.
off rather than a field of love which sub

jects became to me even the coldest ones
,
while others questioned the ethics of their

actions eating chips or chocolate bars my question &
.
it became a matter of feeling or instinct was would it block
,
the field the energy which held it all together she wore
,                                          ,
a beard to a party she sent her cigarette butts back to

peter stuyvesant in little red envelopes until she quit she left
,
university to farm mice & save up for a telescope & start
,                     ,
a magazine if every girl did it would change the world some
.
one finally wrote a song about her saying she was from m
,
ars thinking it would be uncommercial & unthreatening yet i
,
n the song he claimed he was on fire with love for her

–    ,

 

© Michael Farrell

Michael Farrell has published five books: ode ode (Salt Publishing), BREAK ME OUCH (3 Deep), a raiders guide (Giramondo), open sesame (Giramondo) and most recently ‘Cocky’s Joy‘ (Giramondo 2015); ‘Writing Australian Unsettlement‘ is out later this year (2015) from Palgrave.

He coedited ‘Out of the Box: Contemporary Australian Gay and Lesbian Poets‘, published by Puncher & Wattmann in late 2009. Recently he cowrote ‘Waste the Alphabet‘ the Dick Diver single.  His short story ‘Making Love (To A Man) was published in Overland in 2012. He has recently completed a PhD at the University of Melbourne on experimental poetics in the nineteenth century

 

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Poetry

MTC CRONIN ~ FIVE POEMS

FIRST PUBLISHED BY RETORT MAGAZINE, ON APRIL 22ND, 2002

The Music’s HabitMTC-Cronin

Straight to begging – this was the music’s habit, so that the posture of the listener was always one of giving or refusing to be persuaded. Eventually I will turn it off – all the music – so that I might once again locate the voice of chaos, not a voice of transport but at the least one which does not tell me who I am. But there, again, the music, with someone else’s face, forever requiring an introduction, wanting me to answer for it so that I may name myself! Whenever I am quick enough I chop off its fingers with a set of suitably blunt shears. (They once belonged to a rare Italian tenor who took advantage of my mother’s fondness for stripping among the Pandanus trees. I remember her hat and breasts, the sweetbriar wire with which he tied her legs.) And when music bleeds it finally loses direction. What, I ask it then, have we not sacrificed to security and freedom.

The Likeness

Doomed. Proof. But not of its own. Wavering. Attempting. Caught in a space of flight, both to-and-fro where the and hangs taut. Exodus. From the one-and-only. Evidence. Nought without of. Effort. Calling the soul to what the soul imagined: what could exist the same without it.

Facial Heart
and at the End
an Examination of Emotion
and the False Metaphor of Economy

Gourd for the emotions. Always full, no matter how blank. Are there ever (any?) degrees of blankness? The beat missed by the smile? A painting of the heart revealing a face with eyes darting like tapping spoons and a mouth taking flight on wings of impressed glass? An eternity of hollowness humanizing itself, subconscious thoughts humped through the black of the eyes? Look in the face for what might repair the wounded mind with whatever is larger and more kind. Remove its crown. Go through the skin. The room around the mind is inhabited by observances of the body. They pose. Delicate, thin, tenuous, impalpable. Then crude, kicking, garish, like colours always taking over others. Warm, perhaps, like an altar, or a cold pale enthusiasm. Two faces together? So much anger that the moment becomes worthwhile; the marvellous dark dragon flies over the face and unmasks the prison and its thrashing inhabitants. So much desire that the viscera of the tongue climbs to lick the dust from love; drags love out to find its lost shoes of breath. Hear all that whistling through the tunnel of air that reaches the brain. Word-signatures avoiding coffins, finding coffins, sign the contract of the face, shine through layers of flesh! The moon is out again. The lovers are in their wallets. Following yourself becomes mandatory. What’s a corollary to skin?

Considering Trivialities

Confronted by definition, almost as if it could undo me, when definition, truly, makes no claims for itself. Neither, judgement. Follow them back through a kind of weaving that doesn’t belong to a spider, indeed a spider wouldn’t own, and you may find the implications though luck is certainly not crossing the bridge to find a better home if you understand them. So, what is an unimportant detail and how do we make it stay that way while we discuss it? I was standing on a road where three ways met when I saw three men approaching along separate paths. Nice day, one of them said at our point of convergence and we all nodded. Might rain later, said another and we looked up at the sky. The weather is actually of great consequence, said the third, although our remarks are brought from abroad and don’t go to it. Hear, hear. Hear, hear. Do you think, I asked, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are all separate beings? and the three swapped paths and went on their way. I stood where I had been standing, waiting, sure that soon there would come more companions to discuss matters of great import. The fine weather held although there was a vague worry in my head concerning the possibility of any future conversationalists taking advantage of my good nature.

Considering Ritual

Today I want to consider ritual. How I cut my bread and into how many pieces. How ritual shouts as habit whispers. But each in the same language where abundance finds categories and learns to share itself as if scarce. (On certain quiet days in my brain I cut the toast whichever is the other way I do it when I’m not thinking about it.) But forward with a hypothesis that will keep changing its place. Each life is a ceremony performed in ignorance by the one who lives it. Each act observes the gathered minutiae of the world it draws into its becoming. This dynamism that is your handful sacrifices death to the god of suicides. That god is a god for all of us and does not inhabit volcanoes and churches. And as I was saying, how I do certain things with teapots which are different to what you do with them, the reluctance of certain hours to my particular actions, for example, beer never before five in the afternoon. This may seem trivial, what I eat and drink, but rituals are found anywhere and are somewhat like the mind gathering swirling leaves while allowing them to swirl. Or they are a bit like smoke that has cultivated its wild imagination or conceptual threads that have become visible with all their attendant fragility and gentle resistant intentions. And oh, as if there was anything with such ulterior motives! The secrets we keep from ourselves! That might be enough to say if Bertocci hadn’t said, ‘the wound calls for the knife and the knife for the wound’.

Touché!

© MTC Cronin

MTC Cronin’s work first appeared in print in 1993 and since then she has had six books and one booklet of poetry published, between them shortlisted for the Jessie Litchfield Award for Literature, the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, the Age Poetry Book of the Year, the Qld Premier’s Literary Awards, the Wesley Michel Wright Prize for Poetry, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature. Her most recent books are Talking to Neruda’s Questions and Bestseller (Vagabond Press, 2001) and My Lover’s Back: 79 Love Poems (UQP, 2002). An eighth collection, beautiful, unfinished ~ PARABLE/SONG/CANTO/POEM is forthcoming through Salt Publishing (Cambridge, UK) in 2003. Other awards for her work include the Gwen Harwood Memorial Prize for Poetry, the Artsrush Poetry Prize and the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship for Poetry. After being employed for most of the decade of the nineties in law (specializing in feminist jurisprudence), she has now begun teaching writing at university level. Also, with Mireille Juchau (novelist, essayist and playwright) and Caitlin Newton-Broad (youth theatre director), she runs Muse on Wheels, a group which provides writing workshops in secondary schools. She is currently working on her doctorate, Poetry and Law: Discourses of the Social Heart, at the University of Technology.

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