Thursday, 18 February 2021

The February Backroom: Philip Hall

I'm very pleased to have Phillip Hall in the Backroom today, a very committed, honest and passionate poet who lives in Melbourne, Australia.

I feel that Australian poets are often far ahead of us in addressing important issues of colonialism and the environment. Phillip Hall has worked in remote Indigenous education at Borroloola, in the Gulf of Carpentaria. During his time there he established Indigenous poets’ groups and festivals and was made a Gudanji man, known also by his skin name of Jabala and his traditional name of Gijindarraji where he is a member of the Rrumburriya clan; he is Jungkayi (custodian) for Jayipa. His collection 'Fume' published by the University of West Australia was a song to the indigenous peoples, an articulation of connectedness and celebration of their custodianship of the land. It is a remarkable piece of writing and an example of the living purpose that poetry can serve to increase understanding and therefore love. 

Phillip Hall is a passionate member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club. His publications include Sweetened in Coals (Ginninderra Press), Borroloola Class (IPSI), Fume (UWAP) and (as editor) Diwurruwurru: Poetry from the Gulf of Carpentaria (Blank Rune Press). He currently co-edits the e-journal  'Burrow'. 

Here he reads a perfect poem for lockdown: we recognise the grunge, the temptations of drink and our ear worm existences. A Mark Twain reference at the end to spend your lockdown afternoon researching, too....


A valetudinarian’s ‘crisis’ in a time of COVID19

  for the progressive bluegrass of Punch Brothers

            arranged in the old-fashioned way

          (on a magic carpet

    around a single mighty mic)


I am indebted in lock-down more than ever to my partner safe at home

but also, more a cock on the lookout

whose ensemble overdrive is measured

in teaspoons of vegemite or crushed garlic

or in mugs of strong black coffee hiding

the bottle of pre-noon comeuppance that makes bearable

the reels and jigs of perfidy and moonshine

soaked up in a sofa’s distressed leather:


I am unshaven, daggy

in worn black and grey tracksuit and

holey woollen socks, shying away from the world

dog-tired from that damned earworm jingle

of what     I’ve become:


               I wish to look at home

in check or plaid or flannel, to be practised

with power tools and solvents whilst commiserating

in a convivial evening’s ‘Hops of Guldenberg’

or amidst other such booze-soaked hymns

but all I now get is an empty inbox

as I turn over and over to ‘punch brothers punch

                                           with care’.

A link to Phillip's poetry journal:

A link to his forthcoming collection:

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