Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Parallel Import Restrictions to remain!

In the face of strenuous opposition around the country, the Australian Productivity Commission had recommended to the government some time back that Parallel Import Restrictions on books be lifted. The whole slew of recommendations were, in my opinion, a poorly considered short-term view. The justification was that books would become cheaper. The income base of existing authors would supposedly be protected by recommended introduction of government grants. Tough luck for those who were not already published authors and faced an even steeper uphill climb under the Fels scenario. There were other means of making books cheaper, such as lifting tax on them. Instead, Professor Allan Fels and his cohorts argued strongly that the only means of making books cheaper was to allow excess production from other countries to be dumped on the Australian market. Significantly, countries such as the UK and USA, while being in a position to shift more product onto the market outside of current Australian publishing channels, flatly refused to lift their own restrictions.

This morning, the Australian Competition Minister announced that the government would not be implementing the recommendations. This is a victory for the entire Australian publishing industry. Significantly, about the only voices in favour of the Fels recommendations were a narrow coterie of big business interests.

Following is a press release from the Australian Society of Authors. While it is rather gratuitous as there were definitely more than just the ASA campaigning against these recommendations, nonetheless it does reflect wide-spread pleasure and relief at this morning's announcement. Ironically, Prof Fels was due to be debating this very subject at 12:30pm today at the National Press Club, with the CEO of Melbourne University Publishing. The topic? What price cheaper books? I wonder what dear Prof Fels had to say?

From: Jeremy Fisher [mailto:jeremy@asauthors.org]
Sent: Wednesday, 11 November 2009 11:24 AM
To: Jeremy Fisher
Subject: PRESS RELEASE: ASA Members Victors in Parallel Importation Debate!

PRESS RELEASE: ASA Members Victors in Parallel Importation Debate

The ASA congratulates its members and our colleagues in the Australian publishing industry in their united, sustained and ultimately successful campaign to retain territorial copyright.

“The ASA membership has once again demonstrated its quiet strength,” ASA Executive Director Dr Jeremy Fisher declared. “Our members have been constantly telephoning and writing to their parliamentary representatives pointing out how the removal of territorial copyright would destroy Australia’s literary culture and publishing industry. Their persistence has been rewarded. Our leaders have listened. Today’s announcement by Competition Minister Craig Emerson that the parallel importation restrictions in our Copyright Act will remain unchanged is a clear victory for Australia’s literary creators.”

Dr Fisher also acknowledged that the Australian publishing industry was facing significant pressures and authors needed to bear these in mind.

“Minister Emerson correctly highlights the fact that e-books and digital technology are having an impact on the Australian publishing industry,” Dr Fisher said. “The ASA welcomes change. We constantly seek new means to increase authors’ incomes. We are currently in discussions relating to fair contracts for authors with regard to e-books and products such as Kindle. We have also taken an active role in the US-based Google Book Settlement, which will see authors being able to pursue income streams for out-of-print works. The ASA will always seek improved income streams for its members in both print and digital forms.”

Dr Fisher has announced that he will leave the ASA on December 11 to take up the position of Senior Lecturer in Writing at the University of New England.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Soil Song

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Soil Song

By Ross C. Hamilton

I feel the earth, warm and fertile,
trying to grow my fingers
as through the loam and mulch,
my hands delve in quest of meaning.

Is this an answer to a modern disease?
A means to best the degradation of our soul
by feeling the earth's blood
crumble through our fingers?

The question, unasked,
goes unanswered, as I
plunge my hand in the soil once more,
to simply enjoy the feeling.

Ross C. Hamilton

Earth Beat

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Earth Beat

By Ross C. Hamilton

Is it the flesh of my hand
that writes
or a message from my bones
dictating distant memories
of farthermost racial origins?
Do the earth's granite bones
then serve to sing to us
in their age-long songs?

I press my ear to the ground
to listen
and hear a silent heartbeat
calling to my flesh
to write my song once more.

© Ross C. Hamilton

Saturday, October 24, 2009

I have not posted anything in here for a while. I have been doing some work on my poetry from time to time. Today I got off my increasingly fat backside and submitted some for publication. If said publishers don't like them, no great loss and I shall publish them here.

Some other poems are reaching a point of being 'finished' that I shall probably post here soon. In other writing I like to get paid for my efforts. With my poetry however, I am quite happy to just share.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of being the invited guest speaker at the August meeting of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, ACT Branch. The FAW was described to me not long ago as once having been essentially the union for Australian writers. I have to say in my previous years of involvement with the union movement, I have never walked into a union meeting to the sound of a harp playing and greeted by a hug from the organiser!

For anyone who may be interested, I have uploaded my speaking notes and a handout to my website, www.rosshamilton.net, on the Latest News page.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Poetry Challenge - Day 6 - clerihew

The clerihew targets actual people in four lines. The first is their name, the 3rd and 4th longer than the first two with lines often irregular in length.

The first I have previously posted but liked it so much that I decided to use it again.

Captain Ricky Ponting,
loves to go a-tonking,
except for those lonely days
when he tosses his wicket away.

Ned Kelly
was very merry
until those final fateful days
heralded by the hotel flames.

Ned Kelly was an Australian bushranger, famous for wearing crude armour, who was finally taken at a country hotel. The police set the building on fire with Ned emerging to engage the police in a wild gun battle until badly wounded and captured.

Little Johnny Howard
was a bloody coward.
He had to lie to become PM
and the lies continued without end.

John Howard was Australian Prime Minister, 1996-2007. History has since proven him to have been an appalling liar.

Ross Hamilton
is a funny one.
He'd rather sit up all night writing
than asleep in his bed and farting.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Poetry challenge - Day 5 - triolet

Triolet - French in origin, a total of eight lines with the first line repeated twice through the poem, the second line repeated repeated once.

The moment I saw your eyes
my life was forever changed
as they thrilled me to my core.
I think I first came alive
The moment I saw your eyes.
I was born anew, tabula rasa.
My life was forever changed
the moment I saw your eyes.

I once had a special friend
but we don't talk no more.
I was given a new dimension as
I once had a special friend.
Though I cry her name aloud
only silence does reply.
I once had a special friend
but we don't talk no more.

You are a pack of bastards,
such lying filthy scum.
Such prevarications because
you are a pack of bastards.
May you burn in Satan's Hell
in an eternity of torment.
Such lying filthy scum,
you are a pack of bastards.

Poetry challenge – Day 4 - acrostic

The acrostic poem - based on a single word with the letters of that word forming the first letter of each line.

Living every day
Or hour or minute
Vying to share this sweet

So sorely does my heart
Ache since you went away.
Death is no beginning.
No clear-cut final end.
Everything merely stops.
Seeking what I have lost lost,
So alone without my love.

Bright slashes of colour
In feathers oh so bold
Remind me of a painting
Daubed in vibrant oils.

Foul noxious odours
Abound from my gut
Ripping out into the silence
That once was undisturbed.

Poetry challenge – Day 3 – the cinquain

Cinquain – five lines of 2-4-6-8-2 syllables, usually without rhyme, and yes, I realise that I am late in posting it.

friend medico
who served us all so well
as doctor, confidant and friend.
Bye John.

red hanging down
amid the vibrant green
of leaves and immature siblings.
Red hot.

Bright bird,
crimson and blue,
crunching on ripened seed,
from sunflower heads in my garden.


A skink,
swift lizard brown,
darting from place to place
swift motion and frozen stillness.

Sweet girl,
who changed my life,
made me a better man,
brought life into tired emotions,
and died.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Poetry challenge – Day 2 – the tanka

Before I start, I have received some upsetting news today. I arrived at my doctor’s surgery to organise collecting some material, only to be greeted by a notice on the door. My doctor had died and the practise was being closed.

It turns out that my GP passed away unexpectedly in January while I was on several weeks holiday inter-state, so I missed the press announcements.

Dr John Horsley was more than my doctor, he was a personal friend. I will be a long time grieving his loss.

I extend my sympathies to his family.

With this deeply upset state of mind, I am really struggling to write this evening.

The tanka – a five line poem with 5-7-5-7-7 syllable counts.

Still pursuing the autumn theme…

The maple goes red,
as the season turns again.
Farewell to summer
as the nights become so chill
with frost sparking in the air.

Shining red apple,
Delicious by name and taste.
Crisp beneath my teeth,
the juice trickles down my chin
as I take another bite.

Autumn Down Under,
so different from other climes.
No coloured leaves down here
to scatter through the bushland
like streamers through the grey-green.

And one for my friend John Horsley…

Sad is not the word
for the way that I now feel
on your sudden loss.
The gaping hole in our lives
may never be properly filled.

Poetry challenge – Day 1 – the haiku

Haiku – three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables with a seasonal reference and division into a two line unit and one line unit.

As it is Autumn here in Australia, I thought it a good theme to work with.

Red leaves are dropping –
they cluster at tree’s feet, like
they are embarrassed.

Wind shakes the branches,
emptying the store of leaves.
Nature’s clearing sale.

Plants shrivel and die
as the party’s end is nigh.
goodbye friend Autumn.

Tomorrow – the tanka.

Seven day poetry exercise

I have just read an interesting article in Writers’ Forum magazine, February 2009 issue. The article by Sarah Williams provides a seven day exercise in writing brief poetry as a means of practising brevity.

The poetic forms Williams discusses include (see the magazine for examples):

Haiku – three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables with a seasonal reference and division into a two line unit and one line unit.

Tanka – five line poem with 5-7-5-7-7 syllable counts.

Cinquain – five lines of 2-4-6-8-2 syllables, usually without rhyme.

Acrostic – is based on a single word with the letters of that word forming the first letter of each line.

Triolet - French in origin, a total of eight lines with the first line repeated twice through the poem, the second line repeated repeated once.

Clerihew – targets actual people with four lines; first is their name, 3rd and 4th lines loner than the first two, lines irregular in length.

An example immediately occurred to me:

Captain Ricky Ponting,
loves to go a-tonking,
except for those lonely days
when he tosses his wicket away.

Epigram – 2-4 lines in length, satirical, witty

The challenge: over the course of a week, write new poems every day either in a particular form or trying a different form each day.

I am going to do this by attempting a different form each day. Stay tuned to see the results.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Maggoty, maggoty, what do you see,
watching me there, perched high in your tree?
Is it you're hoping for a scrap sometime today?
or is it a reminder that the bird bath's gone dry?

Junior is watching, aping all that you do.
I wonder if you farted, whether he would then too?
Oh dear, Junior has started his plaintive wail,
half-hearted hoping something might come his way.

Now it's me that he's watching, head cocked awry.
Who is that scribbler, just who is that guy?
Time to ignore me and preen both your chests.
Well, family Maggoty, I'm sure you know best.