Juan Garrido Salgado- biographical note

Juan's Launch 17

Juan Garrido Salgado. photo by Tania Garrido

Juan Garrido Salgado immigrated to Australia from Chile in 1990, fleeing the regime that burned his poetry and imprisoned and tortured him for his political activism. He has published five books of poetry, and his poems have been widely translated. He has also translated collections of poetry from John Kinsella, Mike Ladd, Judith Beveridge, Dorothy Porter and MTC Cronin into Spanish, including Cronin’s Talking to Neruda’s Questions (2004). He translated five Aboriginal poets for Espejo de Tierra/ Earth Mirror a poetry anthology edited by Peter Minter (2008). With Steve Brock and Sergio Holas, Juan Garrido Salgado translated poems from Spanish into English for Poetry of the Earth: Mapuche Trilingual Anthology (2014). His later book Dialogue with Samuel Lafferte in Australia (2016) was published by Blank Rune Press.

Juan Garrido Salgado: six poems with translations

Teasing Threads – ’22 Years to Life’ by Mohammed Massoud Morsi

Chris Palazzolo reads 22 Years to Life, by Mohammed Massoud Morsi, 2015

33842117Like most Australians my daily routines are spent sweetly oblivious of the hell many of the world’s peoples endure. I step out my front door and I don’t wonder whether a sniper’s bullet is going to take me out; I send my kids to school and I don’t worry that I might be pulling their bodies out of its rubble later in the day. Reading Mohammed Massoud Morsi’s novella, 22 Years to Life, is like an irruption of this daily hell into my ambivalent Australian paradise. In the peaceful early scenes of the novella, Fathi and Farida, a young Gazan couple, travel to Canada for fertility treatment. The glimpses of my kind of life (in Canadian form) – the quiet, well-ordered streets, the safe houses, the civil and legal safeguards of private life – are Morsi’s narrative doorway for me. They are the conduit into a world where houses and walls are no protection to the human animal and where any kind of intimate life is routinely annihilated.

The narrative actually turns on two forms of intimacy. The first form, the one that’s to be annihilated, is the one we in the West take for granted is available to us whether we choose it or not – the intimacy of love, companionship and family. The second form is the annihilating form. It follows in the tradition of stories from the Iliad to The Naked and the Dead – the intimacy of war. In the early scenes of the novella we see the first form grow. The opening scene is the moment Fathi (the narrator) sees Farida for the first time. We follow their courtship and marriage, their attempts to have a child, their struggles with fertility and finally their success when a son is born and they set up home in Al-Mawasi on the coast. Around them, during this time of peace, we see the beginnings of a civil society, crabbed and secretive under relentless Israeli sanctions, curfews and no-go zones, but tentatively building homes, markets and schools.

War is coming. Embedded in this provisional society is Hamas, and its network of tunnels, arms smuggling, and recruitment cells. Its activities provoke the Israel-Gaza Conflict of 2014. War asserts its rights over all tenderness and love. First, it destroys all privacy by blowing everything inside out; it blows out cars and houses and bedrooms. And then it kills the exposed people by the hundreds. It blows them inside out too, limbs and guts and brains all over the street. The first intimacy is eviscerated. All that’s left is the second intimacy – the intimacy of hatred and revenge. The book ends with a kind of micro-perception of the same intimacy that it opened with, though not of love, but of hatred. A new recruit to Hamas sees the fear and youthfulness of the Israeli soldiers he attacks in a suicidal frenzy, and whispers metaphysical comfort to them as they die. Palestinian. Israeli. Their bodies rot as one.

– Chris Palazzolo


Teasing Threads is Chris Palazzolo, novelist and poet, editor at Regime Books in Perth, radio host on 6EBA FM North Perth, and was, until recently, manager of one of the last video shops in the world. His novel, Scene and Circles, is available from https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/449419

Paul Casey 6 Poems

Paul Casey Biographical Details    Contemporary Irish Poetry Index


Stone Circle Circle
Dia an Cheoil (God of Music)
Indoor Forest
Inside the Bonsai
what’s clogging the mindpipes?
on second thoughts


Stone Circle Circle

‘Stone Circle Circle’ first appeared in Colony

Back to Contents



Dia an Cheoil / God of Music

Dia an Cheoil

Trí fheadóg bhí ag m’athair
A mbéalóg glas, gorm is dearg
Gaotha binne a séideadh
Maidin, iarnóin is oíche

Gach feadóg díobh ar nós a gcuid
Slat flaidireachta, ag lascadh an aeir,
Is chuir a gcuid duán faoi bhriocht mé,
Agus ghéill me láithreach gan teip

Sracadh den uisce mé le draíocht
Is mé nach mór ag eitilt
Mar is é an ceol, an Dia is láidre,
Bhuel sea, í ndiaidh an ghrá

Ach go cinnte an Dia is iontaofa.
Slogadh anois me, a Dhia an Cheoil
Le do chuid slata daite draíochta
Múnlaigh mé led fhuaim

A Mhúinteoir uamhnaigh
go dtí go mbeidh na píosaí beaga den eagla
Imithe, is go dtagann ar ais an solas

In ainm na feadóige moire glaise
Is na feadóige moire goirme
Is na feadóige moire deirge


God of Music

My father played three tin whistles
through lips of green, blue and red
sweet winds blew
morning, night and noon

each a flyfishing line
split the air
hooked each pitch deep
into the underbelly of surrender

to be whisked from water
into perfect flight.
So, music is the mightiest god
after love and surely

the most eternal
Swallow me whole god of music
spin-flick those fly-rods, the colours of magic
mould me in tones of unheard notes

again, dear and dreadful teacher
‘till these tiny scales of fear fall
away with the first rays of light

In the name of the green flute
and of the blue
yes, and of the red flute too

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Indoor Forest

If your urban life is leaf-free
one might say
you could bring the forest to you

to a wide south-facing sill
solar steeped and deepened
with a small table, enough

for sixty pint-sized pots
ten say, by six
with seed varieties endless

cheap as compost on e-bay
green up those phalanges
rein in the continents

with maple jacaranda coral
spruce acacia wattle and
after two careful winters

a forest
spread open, bough
to open bough

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Inside the Bonsai
………………………….after Yehuda Amichai

You visit me inside the bonsai
together we can hear the secateurs
clipping around and around us precisely
You whisper to me

I trust your words
because they carry grains of salt
the way real seaweed
carries salt from the sea

I press your fingers to my lips
this too will shape the future
and your fingers are cool
the way a hot day is blue

these things are all true
You visit me inside the bonsai
and you’ll wait with me here
until the secateurs complete their work

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what’s clogging the mindpipes?

A clamper spends all day seeking the key to his question
An artist removes an opinion from her mind’s eye with thinned
ideas made from crayons. An architect’s mind is written out
and emptied and filled with fresh addictive frustrations.

Today is a coffee overflowing with answers to yesterday’s dilemnas
as sugar-free yesterdays are auctioned off in the yellow pages.
These have in recent years faded to white. The blank screen is a pause
button, a quiet picture of night framed dead center in the room.

A grandchild discovers how to clean a marble headstone. The shaker
of good memories will dance around an old thorn to tease it out.
A friend can pluck one’s courage up enough to oust a second thought.
People are pricking themselves on digital cactii, recording their lives

in virtual quipu. A government official spends all day whitewashing
a newspaper headline from the minds of peers. In the city of river-
bellied streets, council workers spend all day unblocking the drains,
dislodging the giant splinters that accumulate in the anonymous night.

A generation of digital miners chip away at their questions all decade.
Do they know (do they dare wonder) just how things might change?
Haven’t they heard? There’s nothing like a long cold draught
of negative equity to regulate the middle classes, oh yeah. That.

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on second thoughts

It’s time for that coffee and packing up of principles
and off to the imagined life, the lock of that stolen key
Could it be this torrent of barbarity we hear and see
keeps us in constant mistrust of our own humanity?
Being spoilt isn’t just an expression, is it now?
We can only do a lot with a little for so long
and traffic is all about flow and avoiding pretzels
Nasturtiums in our mouths are worth gardens
for deserted nets won’t capture lines, lives, nor
will reciting pi to a thousand places while high
as fifth century stylites, our monkey brothers
close at hand, Soon Mo Kong and Hanuman
finding Jupiter in the frosted pavements of the cities
There’s so much more to what we’ve done than luck

Life won’t run away at twenty-four frames per second
in its timeline of deadlines laid pipe-like in the depths
of an age when late winters meant hot summers, kudzu
colonising at a foot per day. So let’s lay a full keel, flee
livid with illusions of progress, the sky split by each in turn
for once shy and forever bitten, we wear all of our layers
we seek the unfound bodies that lie beneath the rain
shallow as a field of g.m. spuds in county Wicklow
and teach our phones to speak Irish so as to consider
the price of being 100% Irish-legal, the full cost analysis.
With the sacred now virtual, we’re walking the world home
as we protest through spending saved and unsaved time
Why count the days in pairs of socks or human chains
and keys of corporate law and vagabondary?

A thousand years ago they’d all be dead men. What fools
take on the traits of film characters, splice fantasy to their
instinct? You, see beauty as a jungle of endless species
a menu unmeant to be written or told. Loss as an artist’s
heart, a black goat, the angel’s share calling the shots
and that’s the kettle calling the hob more efficient for you
Though it may well be a case of mistaken identity crisis
we’ve nothing left to give but the desire to give
Let’s take our souls down to the drycleaners for a spin
we’ve been stuffing the French press with ground-down
words, doomsday scenarios, temporary considerations
If you discriminate among colours you’re a colourist
And those sixty-four twits who make the world go round
indulging in the odd few delusions of grandeur, singing

war as the appropriate response – and then of its nature
while others find teaspoons more lethal than knives
the lives of rolling stones won’t end in their settling
What we imagine in dread can be actualised by all
the wrong people for we’ve imagined it, unrealised
Dark cumulous speeds along the edge of your iris
and in each, a flash – yes you too harbour lightning
We talk of the dreaded ends of those we love, wish
upon them more music, more life while we share
this one, dreaming in one tense, living the other
hoping beyond hope the inevitable turns evitable
Too much too soon too little too late too clichéd,
too unique, there’s no true synonym for synonym
Now we’re specialising in generalising in a time loop

of jumping through hoops, can’t change how we feel
till we feel what we feel and the thing about avocados is
that downloading is our new favourite form of exercise
And how long is a moment? Excuse me a moment. I know
it’s not time yet. Has your imagination too been faithful?
A too cool fool, you say? Perhaps a too cool fool
but a happily too cool fool, in search of that silent L
in words where, the phone won’t play dead for long
where the dead have been calling all day long
where summer thermals make earth-clouds of the trees
or, white-winged raindrops rise in pairs to the sky, only
to fall as caustic grains of sapphire sand, forget the house
in the hills, we should stay right here, clarity being such
a hard-won magnificence, and we so quick to cloud it

Back to Contents

ISSUE 21. January – March 2017


Luciano Prisco Terra, earth, osso, bone. acrylic on five panels.


Teasing Threads

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An Acute Aesthetic Sensibility: Alex Skovron launches ‘Flute of Milk’ by Susan Fealy

Flute of Milk by Susan Fealy, UWAP 2017, was launched by Alex Skovron at Collected Works Bookshop on 16 March 2017.

Susan Fealy at the launch of Flute of Milk. Photo by Richard Mudford.

It was near enough to a decade ago that one Susan Fealy materialized on the Melbourne literary scene as if out of nowhere – or so it seems in retrospect, and so it appeared to me at the time. She had written a searching response to my then recently published novella, The Poet, and this led to an exchange of emails and our first meeting. We began to cross paths at poetry readings, and I soon discovered that Susan loved to write long but interesting emails packed with her musings and reflections on matters literary, artistic, or otherwise noteworthy. As time went on, these emails, and our conversations whenever we met up, gradually revealed to me a person who thought hard about language, art, ideas, the natural world; a serious, passionate reader who probed deeply into whatever text was before her or whatever notion was exercising her mind.

These characteristics are richly mirrored in Susan Fealy’s poetry. I believe that Flute of Milk is a very strong first collection. It has certainly been a while coming, and this has worked much to its advantage. Because Susan has been patient and unrushed, fine-tuning her work with meticulous care at every opportunity. The result is the volume we’re launching here today: an accomplished and impressive book of poems.

Where to begin? Let me venture to say, first of all, that close observation is one hallmark of this collection, and that (if I may put it this way) the author’s poetic lens is focused on discerning the molecules of experience as mediated by memory, intellect, and an acute aesthetic sensibility. Memory, in one guise or another, is a driving force in many of the poems – the fulcrum on which the innocence of seeing, and the experience of being and feeling, are balanced.

The title-poem, appearing right near the start of the book, opens with a radiant still-life description of a dairy, but soon modulates into the poet’s first-person voice, and then this:

Memory prefers to hold things still,
but the past, present and future
are a long flute of milk.  [16]

With this all-important image suddenly illuminated and transformed, the poem pauses to ‘hold still’ for a moment one such precious memory, before flowing forward and into its beautifully rendered conclusion – which I must let you discover for yourselves. From there, the book just builds in authority as we read.

Before long we encounter a cluster of poems beginning with ‘What Memory is Like’ [26] and opening onto two evocative backward glances into childhood: the prose-poem ‘Black on the Tongue’ – ‘It was hot. I was ten. My towel knotted my waist …’ [28] – and the lyrical music of ‘A Measure of Flying’, where the poet recalls: ‘The ironbark fringed the sky and scribbled our pool with leaves. / In summer we dived down, determined to rescue the blue.’ [29]

A major and much-recurring motif throughout Susan’s poetry is her abiding concern
with colour. It makes almost countless appearances – from a casually instructive ‘A Confluence of Blues’ [18], with its vivid, disarming closure; to its role as a touchstone in an extraordinary elegy addressed to the late Peter Steele, titled ‘Faith is Green’ [24]. Indeed, reading this collection, I was constantly alert to the many tone-colours that shimmer across its pages. Some poems are themselves like a pellucid watercolour wash, others glisten with the harder texture of oils. In others again, silence (or the unspoken) becomes a colouring all of its own. Let me quote in full one short, chromatic poem, ‘Intimidations’ – but watch how the poet steps through several shades of red to attain a consummation at once joyful and ambiguous:

Each dawn has been a clotted pink;
…………………………………….the clouds, almost a red, infuse
unlikely ink into the sky. Camellias
climb in crimson confusion over fencelines,

And prunus plums arrange their frozen stars
as if auditioning them for small parts
……………………………………………in a Sisley or Corot.
My iceberg had the audacity to bloom pink,
…………………………………………………and still I can sing away the spring.
………..  …………………………………………………………………………………..[22]

I think it would be fair to say that Susan’s poetic landscape is interspersed with both the colours and the shapes of the natural world. There are botanical tributes aplenty; various fruit assert their presence – in ‘Apple Days’, the apples ‘brood / large as infants’ heads / welcome as teenage breasts’ [33]; and birds are familiars that escort or accompany not a few of the poems – such as, in ‘Flight’, some ‘Doves, looking down– / like humans standing at a funeral’ [43]. Bees and sundry insects occasionally turn up as well. Listen to ‘The Striped Moth’, a poem set in the Melbourne Museum:

At 5 pm your wings will hang with shadow.
Now, they feed on light. Do you remember
tapping at the window, frantic as a tiny bell?
Or is your soul composed—a forest of shadows?

A tiger is latched in you: those eyes crouch
like stars and your pelt is stopped as a tinderbox.
A tree expands in the veins of your wings—
counts one night and half a dawn—signs off.  [58]

And as we read, we notice how objects too, natural or inanimate, artefacts of all kinds, are converted into talismans for the poet to scrutinize and then turn over in her imagination’s eye, examining them from every angle, prismatically, attentive to the intricacies and the wonders, to the ideas they represent. In ‘Sculpting into Mind’ she declares: ‘I love ephemeral things’, such as ‘fluff human dust / flotsam the quietest things / can speak’ [34] – things that might include a cloud, a stone, a bowl, or a box of words arranged in uneven rows on a page. ‘A Poem’, she explains,

is close
to a musical instrument.
It’s a place
to leave your fingers
and your lips.
A poem aches to be
a woodland flute
but is more a piano.
Some poems are conch shells,
familiar as bone
in your hands. A poem
gleams in arc-light–
sparks from atolls in the dark.  [35]

The spark for the book’s opening poem, ‘Made in Delft’ [15], can be traced to the gleam of oil on canvas. A prelude to the title-poem that follows next, it offers a vibrant ekphrastic response to The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer. Elsewhere, the porcelain bowls admired by the poet in ‘Southern Ice Porcelain’ strike her as ‘so perfect they must exist / in an alphabet of shape’, as they ‘wait / for the company of angels’ [68]. While on ‘The Wabi-sabi Storage Jar’, the subject of the facing poem, ‘Night kisses a mountain’ [69]. Earlier, in ‘Seeing the Pregnant Woman at Pompeii’ [41], nature’s deadly, unwitting artistry also makes an appearance – it’s a poem whose heart-rending empathy reaches back across twenty centuries.

Alex Skovron launching Susan Fealy’s Flute of Milk. Photo by Jennifer McKenzie.

The sense of a gathered, contemplative calm in many of the poems is counterpointed in others whose mood or trajectory can take us by surprise – whether in the didactic wittiness and whimsy of ‘How to Dive in Kelp Forest’ [32], or amid the situational surrealities of ‘Breast Imaging’ [48]; in the gentle but pointed humour of ‘Instructions for Weaning a Baby’ (‘Tell her its overrated’) [45], or the playful, not to say mischievous, mock-flirtation of ‘In the Formal Wear Shop’:

I’ll propose to him (I think)
let’s sail to Marrakesh,
unfurl the shirts,
cast into blue,
stain our souls
vermillion.  [20]

The poet as woman and mother takes us into different territory again. For instance, there is the intimate, arresting sonnet ‘Bringing You Home’ [44], with its rhymes so borderline they’re subliminal. And after trying to lift out two quotes from this next poem, I decided that it really needs to be heard as a whole. It’s the third frame (called ‘Nursery rime’) from the sequence ‘Frames for Better or Worse’:

You dawned like winter sunlight
pale gold on the walls. A glitter
edging my shut window. Translucent
as if you swallowed a morning star.
Your breath unsettles like dust
of gardens. Your fingers take root
in air. You are a cloud growing
flowers, a bird-house with wombsong
in your eyes. You, origami child:
now sleep refolds your baby mask.  [51]

As the focus moves in and out of larger themes embracing relationship, love and death, we come upon edgier or bittersweet moments. Quite early in the book, a monologue titled ‘In Lieu of a Statue’, sparked by a novel of Marilynne Robinson, meditates on an absent mother:

My grandmother used to say
close your eyes, remember how she was.
But the space against my lids
is flat and black as the sky.  [23]

Much later another poem, ‘In the Cemetery’, begins:

Graves tread
oblong shadows
on the silvered path—
primitive dominoes  [54]

And at the other end of the scale, as it were, the deftly poised ‘We Outgrow Love like Other Things’ employs funereal tropes to bid farewell to an ended relationship:

When I wake, the sun
scrims the tree and the sky
pours out its clear blue.
Glitter of morning.
I will bury you with champagne
and two glasses.  [52]

Technical skill, craftsmanship and a steadfast concern for language are evident throughout this versatile collection – language that can startle and delight without trying to be showy. Susan is prepared to experiment with line, layout, punctuation and form, to construct a range of vehicles for the shifting rhythms, modes and melodies that animate her poetry: we are offered couplets and quatrains, sonnets and free verse, prose-poems, epigrammatic miniatures, linked sequences – and a villanelle, ‘Metamorphosis’ [56], where she riffs on crows and jackdaws, cathedral-birds and Kafka, with a dose of Czech etymology thrown in!

Kafka is far from alone – despite (if I may digress) what all the mythmakers would have us believe about him! Anyway, a variety of familiar names make cameo appearances throughout Flute of Milk, scattered among the poems and epigraphs, or unmasked in the endnotes at the back of the book. We catch glimpses of Adamson and Albiston, Banville and Baudelaire, Chagall, Dickinson and Glück (that’s Louise not Christoph Willibald), not to mention MacLeish, Matisse and Whiteley. This poet is ever-receptive to the inspiration of other writers and artists.

To sum up, then, with a somewhat broader brush: I think that at the heart of Susan Fealy’s poetic there dwells a passionate capacity, a need, to observe, to penetrate – to weigh on the scales of language – the sights and sensations, the thoughts and feelings, that colour our days and can reaffirm or reset who we are. A keen, imaginative questioning hovers about these pages: an interrogative disposition that is often implicit rather than expressed (implicit, although phrases introduced with ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘how’ or ‘how to’ occur perhaps twenty times across the poems). Now and then, this coincides with a deceptively offhanded tone, or a rhetorical elision, where the poetic moment is magnetized by a refusal not to clip the syntax. Susan’s voice can be sprightly but composed, patient but pressing, inquisitive, earnest, affectionate. And under her original gaze, what is apprehended can risk becoming something stranger and richer.

To put it another way, there is a charged, sensuous exhilaration in her act of seeing, and a joy in the endless possibilities of language as a lens for that seeing – a glass for pinpointing and magnifying the diverse fragments that make up our world and can nourish our spirit. As she writes, a little cryptically, in ‘The Hope Stone’:

and the night seems small,
like an old boot
scuffed at the toe. As if
there could be another one.  [57]

And of course there is, there must be. Just around the edge of the poem. Just barely out of sight …

Susan is known and appreciated, by those of us who are acquainted with her, as a loyal, compassionate friend, and as a stalwart and active member of the Melbourne poetry community. She has attended innumerable Collected Works and other poetry events over the years, supporting her fellow-writers and celebrating their achievements. Well, tonight it’s her turn – and our turn to celebrate her achievement. So please raise your flutes of milk, or whatever else they contain, and let’s drink a toast to Susan, so that I can declare this remarkable vessel officially launched.

 — Alex Skovron


Alex Skovron is the author of six collections of poetry and a prose novella. His numerous public readings include appearances in China, Serbia, India, Ireland and Macedonia. The Attic, a bilingual selection of his poetry translated into French, was published in 2013, a volume of Chinese translations is underway, and his novella
The Poet has been translated into Czech. His latest book, Towards the Equator: New
& Selected Poems
(2014), was shortlisted in the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.
A collection of short stories,
The Man who Took to his Bed, is forthcoming from Puncher & Wattmann.

Flute of Milk is available from https://uwap.uwa.edu.au/products/flute-of-milk

Flute of Milk is available for review. Please go to the Book Notes page for details.

Teasing Threads – Some thoughts on a beautiful photograph

Chris Palazzolo examines a photo from the newspaper.


The photograph has an ambiguous status in the science of signs. In one sense it signifies its referent by resemblance to the referent, in the same way we understand representational painting signifies by resembling. A painting of a tree signifies a tree by resemblance to a tree. Likewise a photo of a tree signifies a tree by resemblance. Neither the painting nor the photo are the tree itself – they are a sign of tree (an iconic sign, Peirce would say). But in another sense the photo is an entirely different kind of sign because it has a direct connection to the referent. The photo of the tree is the tree itself, because it shares with the tree traces of the same photons that bounced off it at the moment the shutter captured them. The photo is an event. Not just a sign of an event, but a trace of the event ‘painting’ itself onto chemically treated paper or into digital storage devices, with the very light particles that made it visible in the first place.

I could study the photo of these men for hours. Its beauty, its eventality, is in that lightspeed point of convergence where consent and formal composition meet. Every man in that room is consenting to be photographed. But only when this photo is being taken. A second, a half second later that consent can be withdrawn by any one of them; one could shut his eyes, turn his face away, hold a hand up in front of his face – a gesture signifying (and this would be so even if it was only one of them) withdrawal of consent for all of them. The consent is momentary, guarded but unanimous, an unspoken ‘here we are, take the photo now, you’ll never get us like this again.’ The crossed arms, the wary glances, the deflected exchanges, the absence of any dress up speaks of time off from building site, warehouse, and showroom – everything signifies the unanimity of not wanting to be here and the momentary willingness to put that on record.

The composition are the visual ‘lines’ that keep all those elements of consenting signs taut – the ‘cues’ of momentness. The room is the formal space within which the men wait and is structured by two parallel lines – two rows of chairs in the right third of the frame and a kind of linked-chain fleur-de-lis type pattern on the carpet on the left third. Most of the men are standing on this part of the carpet which weighs the picture to the left. However, the gazes of three men in the foreground balance the frame. Two standing men glance guardedly at the camera, their gazes directed to the centre, the ‘I’ of the photo (and so lock with the eye that studies the photo) while the seated man in the immediate foreground gazes off camera into the right corner of the frame. This man’s gaze is the key to the photo’s compositional balance. The two standing men glance at us, drawing us into the drama of nerves and anguish that their consent has allowed us to view, but their glances are not enough to rebalance the photo because there’s too much weight on the left. It’s the unblinking blue eyes of the seated man, gazing off sightlessly to the right that pulls the photo into balance.

The compositional lines make a coherent visual space for the eye to roam around and pick up telling details. One of the first details I notice is the old carpet, large patches so worn the underlying stitching is showing. The poverty of the carpet makes me aware that there are no pictures on the walls, or fancy fittings, or any other furniture apart from the chairs (though there appears to be an urn and styrofoam cups on a table against the back wall). The Parmelia-Hilton is a five star hotel, but this is not a five star room where one would imagine shareholders or company executives meet. This is a tradesmen’s room. There are no illusions here. No illusions and no money. Another detail (and this is one my eye always comes back to because in a way it’s the heaviest sign in the picture) is the hands of the seated man in the foreground. Hard dry hands, knuckled like articulated rocks. There is something inexpressibly tender and human the way they rest together loosely interlocked, something paradoxical in how they look so strong and so vulnerable. Almost all the other men have hidden their hands in pockets or under arms. But this man makes no attempt to hide his. So much about him is in his hands. It doesn’t matter whether he votes conservative, considers himself a businessman (a contractor), eschews unions or whatever; he is a working class man, and in this case the long hours in which he laboured and the skills with which his hands fashioned materials into useful things have failed to transform into money. His resting hands and staring eyes speak for all the men in that room. Deleted from capital, cut loose, high and dry, inert things.

  – Chris Palazzolo


Teasing Threads is Chris Palazzolo, novelist and poet, editor at Regime Books in Perth, radio host on 6EBA FM North Perth, and was, until recently, manager of one of the last video shops in the world. His novel, Scene and Circles, is available from https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/449419

Living up to Tradition: Perry Lam reviews ‘Heukseok Kids’

This film review is part of Rochford Street Review’s coverage of the 2017 Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival.

The opening film of the Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival Heukseok Kids is a clear message of the festival intentions of both showcasing new Chinese cinema as well as to present the works of up and coming directors.

Heukseok Kids tells the tale of Defu, a Chinese film student based in Seoul, after 8 years overseas, he is informed of his mother’s terminal illness and has to return home. When Defu returns home, he not only has to come to make amends with his dying mother, but also discover his role in his dysfunctional family as a husband and father.


Arthouse features have a tendency to be extremely personal pieces of celluloid. Unlike commercial fare, the vision of the filmmaker takes priority over all commercial considerations, this is the case with Heukseok Kids, which is based on Chinese director Liu Defu (whom the character of Defu is named after) experiences living overseas in Korea as well as in his home country of Mainland China.

This personal quality permeates through all levels of the film, its screenplay, its performances and its cinematography. There is a sense of intimacy in the narrative, we are always close to Defu and his narrative transformation. The sequence in Korea features a confident, even more virile representation of Defu as a character, he is outgoing, engages in one night stands and cracks jokes with his food photography obsessed Korean friend. However, upon his return to China, all Dionysian traits are drained from his personality, as he comes face to face with, and at times fall short (due to his time abroad) of his responsibilities as a man in Chinese society. This Dionysian/Apollonian dichotomy is novel in its concept, and is an issue that is a rarely explored facet of Chinese cinema.

The film services extremely well as a character study of Defu but due to its prioritizing of its protagonist, it fails in developing its secondary characters, with most of them being reduced to caricatures that we know all too well. The bitter wife, the bum brother, the quiet and hapless father. The secondary characters serve more as shattered reflections of the protagonist than actual characters, every interaction with them only serves to inform us more on Defu, his past actions and their consequences than on the other characters themselves. This is not necessarily a bad thing, the narrative’s myopic focus on Defu actually paints a fascinating portrait of a man stuck in two cultures. A brilliant example of this is Defu and his wife’s discussion about their passionless marriage and his obligations as a husband and father, his wife carries much of the dialogue of this scene but it is Defu who gets the bulk of the character development, as he sits on the couch, too preoccupied texting his Korean buddies. He doesn’t care.


The narrative does take a weaker turn, as it limps to its ending, as Defu becomes a more confused and conflicted character, so does the narrative. The first two acts are strong in its execution of theme and tone but it abruptly ends with nothing resolved. I do understand that a film does not need to answer all its audience’s questions but while the build-up is consistent on the first two acts, we do not see any pay off for all the character development that was invested in Defu and that may leave some people wanting.

The cinematography isn’t beautiful in the aesthetic sense of the word but brings a poetic elegance to the film. Great cinematography has always been misunderstood as ‘great looking images’ but these images may distract from the narrative. This is not the case with Heukseok Kids, as the cinematography, while at times ugly, serves the story first, it is realistic and borderline documentarian in its approach. The world of Heukseok Kids is a claustrophobic one, constant use of over the shoulder shots and tight mid shots imprison Defu into the frame. An even bigger marvel is witnessing how Liu Defu (The Director) manages to make wideshots look oppressive and contrainted, one of the most haunting images of the film comes in the form of Defu (The character) eating in the corner of a dark living room, with old photos of family members and ancestors hanging prominently on the walls behind him. The message is clear, Defu is failing to live up to tradition.


Ray Argall, President of the Australian Director’s Guild presenting the Certificate of Selection to the director of Heukseok Kids, Liu Defu.

While the dysfunction of youth is a strong theme, the film offers a stronger examination of Chinese tradition. The male characters constantly fail constantly at being a ‘Chinese Man’, images and ideals that are set upon them whether through tradition or family. In a memorable scene, Defu’s daughter realizes that her father himself is also still a student, like her. Despite Defu being a father, as a student, he is unable to fully provide for his daughter, likewise to Defu’s brother, who in their father’s words, is a ‘loser’, more a hindrance than a provider to the family. On another note, the father daughter scene brings to fore Chinese society’s obsession with education and how this obsession has become a tradition, unchanged for generations, from father to daughter. Which adds an interesting crease to how we view tradition, if we don’t go against it, wouldn’t all our outcomes be the same?

At its source, Heukseok Kids is a film about questions. It questions the strict traditions of Chinese society, it questions its protagonist’s role in his life, most of all, it questions the importance of your obligations versus your aspirations. While it does not provide a solid answer nor a satisfying pay off, Heukseok Kids is nonetheless a strong debut from a talented young director and provides a thought provoking time at the movies, one to ponder over drinks with friends.


*** out of 5

A strong, if at times uneven meditation on the role of the man in contemporary Chinese society. Like the best of arthouse cinema, it is the questions they raise that are much more satisfying than the answers.



If you like this, you should watch:

Lost In Translation- All millennials should watch this movie. Beautifully written and acted film about loneliness and alienation in the big city.

Taxi Driver- Like how Heukseok Kids confront the idea of what a man is and should be in Chinese society, Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece does the same (and goes further) with American society.

Caché– Heukseok Kid’s narrative structure and visuals bears resemblance to Michael Haneke’s frustrating meditation on the scars of French colonialism. From its ‘drop  off’ third act to its realistic, if mundane visuals of everyday life.




Perry Lam is an Associate Editor of Rochford Street Review. He is the director of  the documentary short film BLACK RAT  has been selected for numerous film festivals both in Sydney and overseas.  https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2016/02/02/welcome-perry-lam-rochford-street-review-associate-editor/

The Golden Koala Chinese Film Festival kicks off on 2nd of February 2017 and takes place at venues across Australia. For further information go to http://www.cff.org.au/.

‘Abecedary of Despair’ by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

Abecedary of Despair

.                                      architecture
.                       of your face
.         traps of the eyelashes
.                                    arches of the brows
.               breath, advances of the lips
.                       and apathy of the eyes

.                     absolute nonsense
.not on the subject
.         Byronic buffoonery
.        to wade beyond the faded tower
.            white bulls for the poor
.                    fables, deliriums

.                             precious blazes are dying
.                     pigeon circus escaped
.                          innocent laughter or cry
.              Philistines, Cretans, long way away
.      nests of lethargic snakes under foot
.          cyclone, and screeches of loons

.                                      drowsiness, afternoon rest
.                              in a dense oak-grove
.                    if managed to make a vow
.                                      done! point a pole
.                   over the olden Mirgorod
.                                      don’t lag behind, go!

.                daily indolence
.  bunch of dried valerians
.           nightly whisper in thorny bushes
.                    the curse of text
.                       troubled flight of sea terns
.   cruel good fortune


.             nicotine traces on the finger, yellow frame
.of a ring, two wrinkles across forehead
.             locking the door, wait for – tails or heads
.                              a word born from silence
.                           tears, blames, fear of loss, silence again
.                                      lost and found jail

.               a desire to get alive
.                      stings, gills and jowls
.   somebody’s strange body
.           in wondrous gentle yours
.              veins of disgrace on yellowish skin
.             the same – grief and mildness

.                                                                           shrivelled idol
.                             sour beer, tainted vodka, sheer spirits
.distant grey clouds, blizzards and pouring showers
.                                        rivers overgrown with duckweed
.       cubical town disappearing beyond the hill
.                  forgotten arrears, new debts of the day

.                           passionate kiss through shut eyes
.                 magical lying dreams
.                                   in a moment between husky and wolf
.on the deck of sea liner
.                     in a chaise lounge of the days
. sailing by the labyrinth of the lazy ice bliss

.             innocent strangers in jungles, again as one and for all
.started to clamber by the majestic ladder
.                                               of Jack the Ripper
.                      Mars in tears of jalouse, Venus constantly jabbers of
.                      the invisible project
.                                           jam jar tomorrow

.sadness of the empty skulls
.           stately flesh trunks, a peat bog is on fire
.                    a strong cocktail for the road
.              on the vast market square, under the green monument
.                                   sparkling epithets
.          just don’t look back!

.                                          islands of small celebrations
.             surrounded by cold ocean
.                                   of dull waiting
.                       of Marco Polo, Columbus
.                                        at least Vasco da Gama
.       by the midday trembling of waves

.silence of a mobile, SMS, Skype, comments and mails
.              up growth of mirages during the plague
.                 prize for dumbness, columnist’s dream
.           on the road to Moscow, a prayed highway
.                    hobos, tramps and freaks
.                            be calm, look better before and leap, keep silence

. the waves of strong wings
.                 over the dozen seas
.   curvature of the continents
.               touch of the gentle hands
.  waving good bye, moon blindness
.          promising to return

.        Saturday silver is brought
.                           to each comer. a quick sense is composed
.              snow is drifting on candles
.        the neighbours are gossiping, then go to sleep
.                   you dreams for their dreams through the wall
.                     remaining yourself

.aerial burial mound, peace
.                          full of pearls
.                 from the top to the bottom
.                              earsplitting consonances in the morning
.  of the ducks lined up in the sloping lines
.          falling into the plate of the sun

.     it is true that in the acquisition of English metaphysics
.  evident by a number of quotes
.                           in their exquisite philosophical speculations
.      in chilling answers to questions
.                            of the uniqueness of human beings
.                              there is quite a violence for the spirit of poetry

.           an instruction to the healing rite is lost. a patient
.stands face to face with the blind priest
.                                                he capers, calling for
.                     a dark bird, the lady of rain
.        a goal is achieved with the sunrise
.                                                  light variations are possible

.                                       suitcase filled with black-wood
.         with ivory, opals, pearls, precious nonsense, dried grass
.     with the colonial wonders
. in the hands of a magician, shopkeeper, a salesman
.              wandering to the east and the south
.              he will be back with six months

.later, enjoying hot chocolate, fresh bread
.                                    just not a Madeleine! decided to walk
.astride. no one in the chalets. last season is finished. new season
.      is not open yet. terrible thought
.                      may be too hasty decision
.            the journey’s completed

.in the next time would be no next time. the present
.        still possible, but a tatter watch for completely
.                      new stuff
.          women are put on by the habit to birth
.        forbidding mourning valediction. Forbidding
.                             touch forgiveness

.gold fishes swim through the salted waves
.            rust eats iron behind the closed valve
.                        azure pours onto the canvas
.                                             blackbirds have flown until
.     the autumn. the language of iced river of nonsense
.                              white lies for the convicts, breakage of bonds

.        September. borrowed memories, feeling a pain
.it’s just a headache. a waste. to breath,
.           to scream, to howl, blocking the memory
.               fretted trees’ worlds underneath
.       drunken summer, while the profile of sailing ship
.       disappears. a runaway thought

.                      soufflé of oxymorons, existential bodies
.                moved by an exemplary evacuation from the height
.a poet in front of the next word
. composes epitaph to rex. not a word
.                                         expanding out
.              giving up the noxious feelings

.    miniature of an elephant, a yellow camel or another beast
.   paint so worn there is no way to say for sure which one
.       an animal carries the kingly lovers. its moves provide
.      further pleasure for the royal couple
.   an observer on the boundary line
.                      a face is hidden by the veil. the hands are white

.       again distinguishing you. a bizarre look
.repeating over the glass, summarising
.                                      each day, hazardous poison
.                                                  vocalised copy
.                        an unmelodious terzetto. a drop of eternal
.                                      life. recognised myself at last

-Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

‘АБЕЦЕДАРИЙ ОТЧАЯНИЯ’ by Татьяна Бонч-Осмоловская was originally published in НОВОЕ ЛИТЕРАТУРНОЕ ОБОЗРЕНИЕ, (New Literary Review), a print journal with online republication of most of the texts. ‘АБЕЦЕДАРИЙ ОТЧАЯНИЯ’ was originally written in Russian and translated into English by Tatiana. ‘АБЕЦЕДАРИЙ ОТЧАЯНИЯ’ was published in the on-line version of НЛО: http://magazines.russ.ru/nlo/2011/110/bo1.html. ‘АБЕЦЕДАРИЙ ОТЧАЯНИЯ’ (‘Abecedary of Despair’) by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya has been published in issue 21 of Rochford Street Review in both Russian and English with Tatiana’s permission.

Read the original in Russian: ‘АБЕЦЕДАРИЙ ОТЧАЯНИЯ’ by Татьяна Бонч-Осмоловская

Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya
is an artist, writer and translator with a background in natural science. Tatiana was born in Simferopol in Crimea. Tatiana studied physics in Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, received a Candidate of philology degree from Moscow State Humanitarian University, and a PhD degree from the University of New South Wales, Australia, in the area of contemporary Russian experimental poetry. She is a member of the Union of Russian Writers and Russian PEN Centre. Tatiana is the author of ten books of prose, poetry and translations, including Introduction into the literature of formal restrictions (Samara: Bakhrakh-M, 2009, in Russian), Idti legko (New York: Stosvet Press, 2011, in Russian), and Istoki istiny (Moscow: Art-Haus Media, 2015, in Russian). She co-edited the anthology Freedom of restriction in Russian. Her poetry written in English has been published in Can I tell you a secret?, Across the Russian Wor(l)d, Bridges Anthologies, London Grip, The Disappearing, Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, and The POEM. Tatiana awards include the Symmetry Festival (Budapest, 2003), International Burlyuk Mark (2009), Booknik’s short story contest (Moscow, 2009), Okno literary journal (2010), Nora Gal literary translation contest (short list, 2015), Novyi Mir literary contest for Osip Mandelstam anniversary (2015), and Russian Prize contest (long list, 2015). Tatiana has participated in 30 art exhibitions in Russia, Europe, USA, and Australia, including personal exhibitions in Russia and Australia. She is interested in the representation of strict mathematical forms in arts; in ordered and chaotic structures; in writing and creating art objects on formal language and literary restrictions. Tatiana is also a researcher and an organiser of cultural projects.


‘Мама, мама, когда мы будем дома?’ (‘Mother, mother, when will we return home?’) by Yan Satunovsky

Mother, mother,
when will we return home?
When we will see
our sweet plebeian yard
and hear
our neighbors talking:

– Oh Lord, we were so frightened,
we ran so fast,
and you?
– In Andizhane we lived,
and you?
– In Siberia,
and you?
– And we were killed.

I want so much to be back home,
so that all that happened would be over
and so that everything was fine.
.                                         1941
– Yan Satunovsky

translated by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

Мама, мама,
когда мы будем дома?
Когда мы увидим
наш дорогой плебейский двор
и услышим
соседей наших разговор:

– Боже, мы так боялись,
мы так бежали,
а вы?
– А мы жили в Андижане,
а вы?
А мы в Сибири,
а вы?
– А нас убили.

так хочется уже быть дома,
чтобы всё, что было, прошло,
и чтоб всё было хорошо.
.                                         1941
– Yan Satunovsky

‘Мама, мама, когда мы будем дома?’ by Yan Satunovsky has been published in Rochford Street Review in both Russian and English with his daughter Viktoria Pashkovskaya’s permission. The English translation, ‘Mother, mother, when will we return home?’ is by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya.


Yan Satunovsky (Iakob Abramovich Satunovsky, Ян Сатуновский, 1913-1982) was a Russian poet and literary critic. He had a degree in physical chemistry and worked as an engineer. He starting writing poetry in 1938 and his early work is close to that of the Russian constructivist poets in form and style. He was in the army in World War II. He was awarded several medals but was also wounded. After the war, he worked and lived in Elektrostal city near Moscow. In 1961, he joined the Russian unofficial poetry group Lianozovo. During the Soviet era, only his poems for children were officially published in the USSR, although a number of poems were published outside of Russia.
Satunovsky’s poetic voice is that of a person who was run over by the totalitarian era and who stands alone to oppose the mass insanity. He writes about humanism and human values when the state values prevail. He was possibly the first Soviet poet who spoke out about the Holocaust. His poetry was written after the horror of Auschwitz and the Gulag. It seeks the truth and genuine beauty among lies and terror.
His books include Хочу ли я посмертной славы. Москва, 1992 (Do I dream of the posthumous fame. Moscow, 1992); Рубленая проза. Мюнхен, Otto Sagner Verlag, 1994 (Rustic prose. Munich, Otto Sagner Verlag, 1994); and Среди бела дня. Москва, ОГИ, 2001 (In broad daylight. Moscow, OGI, 2001).



‘Занятия археологией’ (‘Practising archaeology’) and ‘australis’ by Vladimir Aristov (Владимир Аристов)

Practising archaeology

.How do I know that we are alive?
.    How can I tell the living medley
.    From caverns of Herculaneum?

.     So I walked on the river’s banks,
.     I entered into people’s conversations
.     And I admired the primordial form
.     Which was ready to be a house or a palace.

.       To imprint cold furrows beneath a tractor
.       On the fresh dirt of the early mouldings,
.        Ripping out rags
.       From a dark working jacket under a bush.

.         Just blow slightly away the orange dust from eyelashes
.     Dyed by Egyptian ochre,
.        And to gather from everyone a ribbed drapery of the colour
.     Of blue backyard sunset.

.     To look through the thickness of the slime
.     Not above the vicinity of Mycenae’s gates,
.     But underneath and through the grid
.     Of a dry insipid pavement under the lion gates
.     Of the former grids of English Club,
.      To read the schedule of the night: yes, we are closed
.                                            on Saturdays.

.      You can write endlessly about it:
.      Because I myself write a scroll and I myself read it:
.      Like a prewar whisper in a gateway
.     And the conifer trumpet voice of war roses,
.     And a dream of postwar mausoleums,
.     So to cross a swamp
.     One should fasten general’s epaulettes to the folk boots.

.      Do not be in a hurry in inventorying the matters,
.      (Do not forget yourself among the others…)
.      In changing handshakes as strong as cement
.      And kisses – spots on granite,
.      In twinkling of those lights of illuminations
.      And hate of nameless days.

.      To breathe by all the sharp-sighted senile breath,
.       So that not dust, but pollen of the golden serpent
.       Would go away by the right hand
.       And become the earth gravity.

-Vladimir Aristov (Владимир Аристов)

translated by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

Занятия археологией

.Откуда знаю я, что живы мы.
.   Как отличить мне месиво живое
.   От Геркуланума пустот?

.  И я ходил по берегам реки,
.  Вступал в людские разговоры
.  И любовался первозданной формой,
.  Готовой стать иль домом иль дворцом.

.   Под трактором холодные борозды
.   На грязи свежей раннего литья
.     Запечатлеть, выпарывая ветошь
.  Из темной телогрейки под кутом.

.         Едва сдувать оранжевую пыль с ресниц,
.Окрашенных египетскою охрой,
.        И цвета синего дворового заката
.Ткань рубчатую собрать со всех.

.Не сверху у ворот в Микенах
.Заглядывать сквозь толщу ила,
.Но снизу сквозь решетку тротуара
.Сухого пресного под львиными вратами
.Решеток бывших английского клуба
. Читать о распорядке ночи: да, закрыто
.                                            по субботам.

.  Писать об этом можно без конца:
.  Ведь свиток я пишу и сам читаю:
.  Как в подворотнях довоенный шепот
.  И хвойный трубный голос роз военных
.И сон послевоенных мавзолеев,
.Когда чтобы через болото перебраться,
.На ичиги прикручивают генеральские погоны.

.  Не торопиться в описи вещей,
.  (Себя не позабыть среди других…)
.  Рукопожатий крепких, как цемент,
.  И поцелуев – пятен на граните,
.  Сверканий тех огней иллюминальных
.  И ненависти безымянных дней.

.  Всем зорким старческим дыханием дышать,
.    Чтобы не пыль, – пыльца золотозмейки
.    По правую бы руку отходила
.    И становилась тяжестью земной.

-Vladimir Aristov (Владимир Аристов)



(to her looking through the sea)

.        That linen water

                       (not averting glance from all south oceans and seas)

.                      arose suddenly again
.                           you recalled as you were rinsing

.                           there table-clothes were not laid on the waters

.                                   this festival is scattered
.                                           dispensed is the surface of feasts and attires
.                                                    and dark of hairs taken away from the face

.                                  as if again you see the reflection of sacred northern rivers
.                                                      under the gloomy steep
.                                                where you have rinsed the linen before

.     and today’s trembling flags that now are seen to you
.                                with marine stripes of sways
.                                       inside them the ice of fish in depth
.                                              shells crabs and corals

.                            but that linen water
.                                caressed your hands
.                                  you touched it so
.                                      as if you laundered it

.                                 the ancient water was clearing up

.                           wrinkles were vanishing

.                   and you see between the fingers
.                  the other constellations in the water were out
.             the Pavo and the Phoenix and close to us, the Centaurus

.                   the marine signs are embroidered

.            and to you inclined
.               in the reflections is seen the Southern Cross

-Vladimir Aristov (Владимир Аристов)

translated by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya


(смотрящей сквозь море)

.        Та полотняная вода

.                        (взгляд не отводя от южных всех морей и океанов)

.                      возникла вдруг опять
.                           вспомнила ты как полоскала

.                           там где на воды скатерти не стелили

.                                   здешний фестиваль развеян
.                                           роздана поверхность празднеств и убранств
.                                                    и темноту волос убрав с лица

.                           ты словно снова взглянешь в отраженье священных северных рек
.                                                      под сумрачным обрывом
.                                                где прежде полотно ты полоскала

.     и нынешние флаги трепетные что тебе теперь видны
.                                с полосками морскими колыханий
.                                       в них скрыты рыбы лед на глубине
.                                              ракушки, крабы и кораллы

.                            но та полотняная вода
.                                ласкала твои руки
.                                  так к ней прикасалась ты
.                                      как будто ты ее стирала

.                                 светлела давняя вода

.                           морщины исчезали

.                   и видишь что меж пальцев
.                  выступили в воде истинные созвездия иные
.             Павлин и Феникс и ближний к нам Центавр

.                   вышиты морские знаки

.            и тебе склоненной
.               в отраженьи виден Южный Крест

-Vladimir Aristov (Владимир Аристов)

Vladimir Aristov’s poems ‘Занятия археологией’ and ‘australis (смотрящей сквозь море)’ were last published in Открытые дворы (Moscow, New Literary Review, 2016, pages: 313-314 and 71 respectively). They have been republished in Rochford Street Review along with translations by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya, ‘Practising archaeology’ and ‘australis (to her looking through the sea)’, with Vladimir Aristov’s permission.


Vladimir Aristov (Владимир Аристов) was born in 1950 in Moscow, Russia. He graduated from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, has a degree in physics, and works as a professor of physics. His poetry has been published since 1997. He is an author of five books of poetry, one novel, a play, and a number of essays. He is a laureate of Alexey Kruchenych poetry prize (1993), Andrey Bely poetry prize (2008), and Razlichie (Difference) poetry prize (2016).