This pamphlet, promoting a dual reading of John Forbes and Alan Wearne in 1984, is an effect of new Xerox technologies that promise speed of production and distribution not just of ephemeral propaganda like this but of books themselves. There is an alternative ‘corporate’ culture behind the event, with the support of Robert Kenny’s Rigmarole Books (closing shop in 1986) which grew out of the small press, Rigmarole of the Hours (1974-79) ‘ … influenced by American small presses publishing new and experimental writing.'
The venue, Kris Hemensley’s Collected Works, was then in Smith Street in Collingwood, is now in the Nicholas Building in Swanston Street in the City, and will soon be a phantasmagoria in the mind of some of the living.The reading is in winter (punctuated by the occasional bell of the 86 tram), entry is two dollars ( to either buy booze for the collective, or to be split between Forbes and Wearne to buy booze for the collective) and it is at 8pm, not before dinner, but at showtime. You might then follow Forbes et Wearne to the Union Club Hotel around the corner and drink until it closed.
We sense through its title 'Melbourne to Sydney and Back' the event plays with the curious and beautiful rivalries enjoyed between Sydney poets and Melbourne poets for the prestige of a greater bohemia and better, more frequent parties, as well as literate audiences. The event would confirm a strategic alliance of aesthetics and affection between two friends for posterity, though this does not discount a latent competitiveness that is a silent motivator in the performance of poetry, from the age of rival troubadours to contemporary poets.
A Subtle hierarchy is expressed in the arrangement of the images. Forbes is first. Wearne looks raffish, an intellectual roustabout, handsome in an old spice Essendon half-forward flank kind of way. A satirist in both old republican (latin) tradition and the democratic style of killing-floor Australian irony. Forbes looks Jesuitical or angelic? Gabriel, Raphael … his youthful face is illuminated and his eyes look skyward. In the vexed business of the author-photo, this is a cunning choice, having both it’s ‘who, me?’ and its ‘hello gorgeous’ at once.