'This issue of Southerly pays tribute to David Brooks, who is retiring as editor after two decades’ stewardship. It includes poetry, fiction, essays and memoir that interweave readings of David’s work with accounts of the various literary communities that David has worked in over four decades from Canberra to North America, Perth, Slovenia, Sydney and now, Katoomba. Together, these pieces create a world of a very specific kind, one populated by words and word people and the currents between them in specific times and places. They also enable us to draw out recurrent themes and practices.
'The issue is a tribute and a celebration of a creative literary life. We are reminded of the etymology of the word text, from weaving. The issue shows one remarkable textual practice that weaves through the literary page and daily life to community and culture, including this journal. The issue also includes unthemed work across all categories including reviews.' (Editorial introduction)
Content indexing in process.
'I have known you for almost thirty-six years. I was always aware of how much you respected animals and the natural world, but it wasn't till we were at the Double Exposures: Christopher Brennan/Stephane Mallarme Conference you organised in Sydney back in 2007 that I clicked with you on that level. Teya had prepared vegan food, and much of our "offtopic" conversation revolved around issues of animal rights and veganism.' (Introduction)
' I first met David soon after arriving in Sydney in the winter of 2010. He had recently returned from his annual sojourn in Slovenia, staying, he informed me, not very far from Castle Duino, which rises above the steep Karst cliffs skirting the Gulf of Trieste, and is open to the ornate polyphony of elements in all times and seasons, where in 1912 Rainer Maria Rilke famously took dictation from the wind.' (Publication abstract)
'Leonard Cohen had just died and Phil and I were wounded, as were a million true believers, especially me with a cut on my eye and Leonard would have liked this prose piece because it has his name in it and he was my second hero next to Bob Dylan who thousands of writers hate for winning the Nobel Prize, ignoring the millions of writers inspired by the Bobster and I was wounded by a man in suit and a panama hat who has his own hero in Walter White from breaking bad and the man...' (Publication abstract)
'Since 1983, David Brooks has produced five collections of poetry: 'The Cold Front, Walking to Point Clear, Urban Elegies, The Balcony and Open House', the last four published between 2005 and 2015. All of David Brooks's poetry collections show a remarkable facility with the demands of free verse, his preferred mode. There are only a very small handful of poems which use more formal structures. Immediately apparent is his mastery of the line. Because there are no hard and fast rules as to where to break a free verse line, its use can be problematic, especially if the style is conversational and the language leans towards plainness, then a prose-like laxness can be the result, but Brooks avoids all these pitfalls. Brooks is generally a conversational poet, his poems engage the reader through personal observations, revelations and epiphanic disclosures. His ability to pace the poems, and to use his free verse lines to distribute modulations of voice and tone, cadence and meaning keeps his work kinetic, buoyant and constantly surprising.' (Publication abstract)
'Amber is sometimes called the memory stone and is reputed to bring good luck to the wearer. It is also said to clear the mind and ease stress. When I am giving book talks I like to wear the amber necklace I inherited from my mother as an 'aide memoire' and lucky charm. Occasionally, these warm, cherry-coloured stones strung in perfectly-graduated ellipses draw comments when I am signing books or chatting with audience members, particularly from older women of Eastern European background who ask me if the amber is from the Baltic coast. While much of the world's amber is found there - fossilised resin from an immense forest that once grew in the region that is now the Baltic Sea - it also washes up on other coastlines, including the so-called amber coast between Felixstowe and Southwold in Suffolk. And that is where my necklace comes from, a legacy of our long family connection with the small fishing town of Aldeburgh.' (Publication abstract)
'When Paul awoke, the dog had died, and he was sorry. Sorry for its death, sorry he had not cared for it in life as well as he should have, sorry he'd been unable to extend to it more than a vague affection and cheap food; sorry that, at the end, he'd failed to take it to the vet and spare the animal that last dreadful night, sorry too he was not as sorry as he ought to have been...' (Publication abstract)
'I should have sent you this letter years ago, my most subtle, sagacious and reclusive friend David. Probably early in the years around the new millennium when unexpectedly an invitation of yours arrived asking if I would participate in a joint course on translation. I was taken aback. I was alarmed. The hermeneutics of suspicion took over the best of me. Why? What could I say? Can I do it? It was the first time that a colleague from a mainstream big department had asked another from a small and marginal to work together. That was the beginning of my iniquities. I accepted and I started working frantically on preparing the course. It was frightening and exciting. It gave me the opportunity to discuss and, to use an unfriendly term, problematise, my own experience of translating Patrick White. It was also a unique moment to develop a deeper bond with you and our university, a strange place of perpetual parallel monologues, and submerged creative tensions.' (Publication abstract)
'David Brooks is a consummate poet, or as we like to say in America, a poet's poet. So I feel a bit out of place in this volume of tributes, as I am not a poet. I am, however, a writer, and many of my books are about animals: what they feel, and what we feel when we think about them, or why we sometimes don't feel for them or even think about them. This is actually a rather poetic theme, and one, I now believe, best addressed by a poet, and not an animal scientist, or even an animal-scientist wannabe (me).' (Publication summary)
'An old Captain of Cavalry, back in the days when the Cavalry was of any importance at all, retired to the Crimea, to a large house outside of Theodosia. A man with a fascination for orchids. Old, that is to say, at the time of the events I'm about to relate, though he wasn't when he came. Retired in his forties, in fact, and had been there twenty-five years or so, slowly 'going to seed', as the saying goes, if by that one can be taken to mean not shaving every day, not always fastening all the buttons of one's fly, eating only when one finds oneself hungry, and taking as scant regard for the dates and days of the week as for the hours on the clockface, although it must also be said that he did, for the first twenty years of his residence, have a housekeeper, chosen deliberately for her advanced age, slowness of movement, and general disregard for instructions and conversation. She might almost have been a ghost...' (Publication abstract)
'I am reading David Brooks's novel 'The Umbrella Club' with the help of Adorno's dialectic method, to trace the novel's philosophical movements. Thoughts which Brooks develops in 'Derrida's Breakfast' - where he interrogates philosophy and poetry from a vegan perspective - are explored in 'The Umbrella Club'; in fiction, ideas can play. Bringing the Frankfurt School thinker into this context may help readers to appreciate the theoretical sophistication of Brooks's writings, and to see his rejection of postmodern certainties not as return to a pre-post modern stance, but as a decisive moving ahead, into a new, compassionate aesthetics which do not shy away from the complexities of the philosophical tradition. Or, a floating ahead, driven by changing winds and vagaries of landscape as balloons will, yet ultimately reaching its destination, as balloons also do, sometimes, if one is persistent. After all, 'The Umbrella Club' is a gothic 1920s adventure tale.' (Publication abstract)