Available this week

Save the date!

Sunday, August 28
South Coast Writers Centre, Coledale

Ron Pretty has been writing and publishing poetry for more than 50 years. In that time he has featured in many journals and anthologies, published 15 books and chapbooks and read his poetry in Australia, UK, USA and Europe. From 1973 to 2007 he ran Five Islands Press and published 230 books by Australian poets during that time.

On August 28 he will launch his new and selected collection, called 101 Poems at the South Coast Writers Centre in Coledale on August 28. The book is published by Pitt Street Poetry. It contains a selection of the best poems from his earlier collections, plus a selection of new poems. It will be his last published collection.

Peter Francis will be MC. Entry is free and refreshments will be provided. The RRP for 101 Poems is $32.00, but it will be sold at the launch for $25.00.

I hope to see you there!
Ron Pretty

Launching in August

Ordinary Time by Anthony Lawrence and Audrey Molloy

“I don’t know if I can tell you the truth. What if truth were prismatic, everyone looking through fruit-coloured panes?”

So begins a conversation between two people who have never met. Join Anthony Lawrence and Audrey Molloy on a lyrical journey through time and space, exploring themes of impermanence, distance, extinction, friendship and love, through the natural and imagined landscapes of time travel.

Information about the book launch can be found here

Our 2018 list

Time has flown, flown faster than a weaver’s shuttle, which apparently is pretty jolly fast.

So now it’s time to welcome a raft of new poetry books to the Pitt Street Poetry stable for 2018.

First up this year is Rainforest, a fine fourth collection from Eileen Chong, launched by Felicity Plunkett in Sydney before a crowd of 70+ on Saturday 5th May at the Stanley Street Gallery – and on Monday 7th May in Canberra by Melinda Smith at the eponymous Smith’s Alternative That Poetry Thing.  Seventy more people, they say, and around eighty books sold across the two events.  Nice.

On Sunday afternoon, 3rd June at Gleebooks two more new books will join the ranks: Distance – a first collection from Simeon Kronenberg, to be launched by Anthony Lawrence.  And 101 Poems, a ‘selected’ from the self-same Anthony Lawrence, presenting his greatest hits from 15 poetry books published over the last 30 years, to be launched by legendary Puncher & Wattmann publisher poet David Musgrave. This is the second volume in our new 101 Poems series which kicked off with one from John Foulcher back in 2016.

Later on in 2018 we’ll be pleased as Punch(er) to bring you new collections from Lesley Lebkowicz and Geoff Page.

Finally, coming up to the end of the year, we’ll delightedly welcome Felicity Punkett to the Pitt Street Poetry family with her first collection since the storied Vanishing Point, published by UQP in 2009, which won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Prize.

Six very different poetry books from six fine Pitt Street Poets, and each costing pretty much the same as a seafood pizza.


Back in, hmm, black?

A prolonged radio silence, you mutter. Not very poetic.

Well yes and no. The latter months of 2015 saw Pitt Street Poetry not so much in the pits as more of a long, deep slough of despond. One half of the cissexual team who form the engine room of the imprint crashed into intensive care and six exquisitely uncomfortable subsequent hospital weeks. The other, stronger (i.e. biologically female) half clustered around with food and empathy, then dashed solo to Chennai for the three day nuptials of their eldest. Préparez vos mouchoirs, folks. But once that silent tear has been shed, get out your Paypal virtual wallets as well, because in the midst of all that we managed to produce three of our finest poetry offerings yet.

Peter Goldsworthy’s Maestro and Honk if you are Jesus are cherished rites of passage for every Aussie literary coming of age. But like Luke Davies, Clive James and so many other flaneurs, he is first and foremost a poet. The other creative outflows – novels, medicine, literary politics and the rest – are minor branch vessels leading from the great wide pounding aorta of poetry. His new book for PSP The Rise of the Machines and other love poems collects all the poetry Goldsworthy has written in the 21st century. It has been welcomed with a fine careless rapture by the Herald, the Age, the ABR and all the usual suspects, even those more usually resistant to the odd love poem:

Distracted, I speak to you out loud
in the empty car, old news I forgot to mention
before. When our conversation ends
I am alone again, but in another suburb, lost
and unremembering. Somehow retracing
my trail of miles to our supermarket,
I pay for bread and milk but walk out,
talking to you more quietly, but leaving
the staples of life on the counter.
A shopgirl chases me to the carpark
and hands them over, keeping
her distance, thinking from the way
I move my lips that I have lost my mind
when all along it was only my heart.

Then in November a double launch in Canberra at the Civic Library. A new collection from Geoff Page is always an event, and Gods and Uncles finds him at the top of his redoubtable form. We were there at Adelaide Writers week in March 2014 when Peter Goers, Adelaide ABC local radio evenings legend, quizzed him about his life and work – but were unprepared when Goers anointed him “Australia’s greatest living poet”. But entirely unsurprised. This new book moves from wry, chuckling takes on family and friends, on the nature of the shirt and the status of ballroom dancing in 1942, deftly through from the avuncular to the divine:

Quotidian is all:
the way the weather was,
a late-night red across the palate,
afternoons of sweat and skin,
the timbre of a saxophone,
the quality of light at dawn
across the lotus pond.

The other Canberra launch was a new venture for Pitt Street Poetry – a volume of selected poems, with (don’t look now) a black cover instead of a white one. Who better than John Foulcher, oldest of friends, loyalest of supporters, finest of poets, and importantly the geezer who launched the imprint back in 2012 with a reprint of his debut classic Light Pressure (1982) and his profound Parisian The Sunset Assumption. Foulcher’s 101 Poems collects his best work, published in nine slender volumes over 30 years. For the first time the reader can savour, in a single book, the affectionate nods to the bush, the schoolyard and family, the quiet moments of transcendence, and that quirky, jokey, self-deprecating eye for the absurd which are the hallmarks of his work.

Voices have pierced the concrete,
they riddle me with memory.
She lies transfigured. I wait
and with my other hand
reach up, touch fingers wriggling
from the slab. Something is whispered.
I remember tears, afternoons.
Soon there will be the night air,
the flashes of wind, cameras waiting
with my future. Though I have
only this day, this moment.
I have raised my hand from black water,
I have felt the diminishing ripples
lapping at me. I have listened,
I have heard the quiet sentences.

All three books are available in the best poetry bookshops pretty much everywhere, but why not click on the link and buy them all on line now?

And seeing as how we’re back in dark harness, watch this space.

2016 promises to be the best year yet for Pitt Street Poetry…

Our 2015 List


The year has started splendidly with the launch of Jean Kent’s new collection The Hour of Silvered Mullet at the Newcastle Writers Festival. The weekend had a strong poetry component, kicking off with a lively panel of Jean, Melinda Smith and Jenny Blackford discussing their own and each others’ work, and then the seven-poet ‘big read’ on the Sunday afternoon in the main hall, with over 100 in attendance.

We enjoyed launching the book so much that we did it all over again a week or so later, at the new Cardiff library. Christopher Pollnitz, editor of DH Lawrence’s Collected Poems, provided the necessary obsequies, now published on line at the Rochford Street Review.

Next up is Tim Cumming’s latest full-length collection Rebel Angels in the Mind Shop, his first with Pitt Street Poetry, following up on the chapbook Etruscan Miniatures. Tim is based in London and published previously with Salt, until they decided to restrict their list to deceased poets, a career move which has its shortcomings. His new book will be launched on June 2nd at a jolly PSP evening at our London outlet, the London Review Bookshop, just a Rosetta Stone’s throw from the British Museum as their web site so lamely boasts.   Jakob Ziguras will fly in from Poland to join us, and as Benedict Andrews is in town shooting his first movie Blackbird. we will have three fine bearded Pitt Street Poets on the one platform for the night.

The rest of the year is shaping up strongly. John Foulcher’s 101 Poems is a survey of the best of his work over nine collections and thirty years.  Geoff Page follows the success of 1953 and Improving the News with a lively new volume called Gods and Uncles.  Then a couple of new poets – new for us, anyway.  Lorne Johnson’s  illustrated chapbook Morton explores aspects of that celebrated national park, and Peter Goldsworthy makes a welcome return to poetry (he never really went away) with Rise of the Machines, his first outing since New Selected Poems in 2001. We round out the year with the third volume in our Mark Tredinnick trilogy – his legion of fans will find Body Copy a worthy successor to Bluewren Cantos and our reprint of Fire Diary.

And finally, our first book of prose – but it’s ok, the prose is all about poetry. Ron Pretty’s vade mecum for the budding poet Creating Poetry was first published in 1987 by his own Five Islands Press and has been in demand ever since. We’re proud to be publishing a revised edition, with new selections and examples, of this perennially popular textbook.



Consider the Perfect Hexagrams of Snow

On Thursday 26th September 2013 one of Australia’s most admired poets, Stephen Edgar, launched the most recent Pitt Street Poetry book: Chains of Snow, a first collection from Sydney poet Jakob Ziguras.  The launch was held at the University of Notre Dame in Broadway, where Jakob teaches philosophy.

This young poet came to us strongly recommended by several influential poets and poetry arbiters in Australia and abroad.  That in itself, while important, is not sufficient for a green light: in the end we must back our own judgment.  After reading a few pages it was clear that he could publish with any Australian or international publisher, and we hoped he would choose us.

In our eyes, Chains of Snow promises to become a classic.  We believe it will be welcomed warmly, cherished, and that Jakob Ziguras will become a major figure on the national and international poetry landscape.  In the present context of this blog, could we perhaps use it as an object lesson in what, in our eyes at least, makes a poetry manuscript demand publication?

By way of example let’s look at the first poem in the collection, ‘Orpheus Turns’.  If you don’t have the book to hand, you can read it here, and even, if you like, listen to the poet reading it out loud by clicking on the media link at the bottom of the page.

First and most important, it has something to say, something well worth saying. This poem is positioned perfectly at the beginning of the collection.  It concerns the nature of the choices which face a poet: not least the particular choice to write (or read, or even publish) a new poetry book.  And then by extension it’s about the choices which face us all, in art and in life.  So it’s personal but also universal.

It draws on the Orpheus myth of course.  A bold connection for a new poet, even one who is half Greek.  These days we most commonly encounter Orpheus down on the harbour, at the Opera Theatre, wandering the underworld in his unsuccessful quest for Euridyce, poignantly for Gluck, riotously for Offenbach.  But we shouldn’t need reminding that he was revered by the ancient Greeks as the greatest of poets, able to charm all living things with his verse and songs.  By pretending to follow in the footsteps of Orpheus this young poet demonstrates a breathtaking assurance in his opening piece, just putting it out there.

Yet the first phrases are not abstract or philosophical but personal, even romantic.  There is an immediate connection.

   While I sit writing, just a fragrant trace
   Confirms your presence.

Second, the poetry is timeless, lyrical and beautiful.  Phrase making is part of this equation, so is the memorable image, the arresting opening, the elegantly contrived denouement.  But the whole is invariably more than the sum of the parts.

   I know perfection is a chance effect
   Of uninflected being, that to reflect
   Will break the mirror that preserves your face . . .

Thirdly there is a unique and recognisable voice.  Consider the modern pantheon: Whitman, Pound, Yeats, Auden, Eliot, Bishop, Larkin, Plath, Hughes, Berryman.  Serve up any three lines and chances are you could spot the poet.  This principal applies here: the quiet shout out to Heraclitus in the penultimate line of this poem is a signature trope:

   Perhaps that other Greek was speaking sense:
   ‘The upward and the downward path are one.’

Finally and of equal importance, this poem demonstrates a deep understanding of the complex traditions, rules and folklore of English language poetry.   By modelling ‘Orpheus Turns’ on the famous ‘Double Sonnet’ of the American master Anthony Hecht, Ziguras lays claim to membership of a craft heritage of profundity and transgression within a mastery of traditional forms.  Fans of prosody will enjoy the metre and the rhyming schemes in this poem, but while these aspects will certainly appeal to the poetry cognoscenti, the average reader needs no esoteric knowledge to appreciate the work – its lively voice and freshness of touch transcend the formal constraints, as the best poetry must, and speak immediately to the reader.

We have published five poems from Chains of Snow on this website, each quite different in tone and subject matter, and each accompanied by an audio file.  We encourage you to get to know them and to share our enthusiasm for this welcome newcomer to the ranks of major Australian poets.