australian poet

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Most of Chris Mansell’s poems are written for the page and to be read aloud (eg Lies), there are a significant number however which could be loosely be categorised as ‘vispo’ (visual poetry). Some of these are digital poems with/without soundtracks, others rely on grids or non-linear ways of reading, some are three dimensional, can be physically manipulated, or are presented as posters or in non-book forms. Here are some sample poems in some of these forms. The most recent publication are non-conventional poems in a handmade booket (and in a large format portfolio) form: Stung. There is a little about them, and a sample here.

3D version of the poem ‘This Day was Full originally a poem for the page and to be read aloud.

Left: Part of a series, Stung, of typewriter poems - some small and folded, some enlarged.

Right: Small poster, Truth.

‘spine iris’ was used in a Second Life virtual art exhibition by Lea Hawkins. The poem appeared to be floating freely in the air while multi-layered audio of the poem played.

Lea has used another poem (‘fingerprint’) as a projection onto the skin of a model.

To see comments about creation of this poem, go to Rob Kennedy’s Mindstorm site.  The poem is also in the collection at the Shoes Or No Shoes Museum in Belgium and exists as Handwritten #1 (a handwritten book in a small edition).

Autistic Heart’ is an example of a digital animation poem. Originally written for the page, it was modified and extended as the format changed.

More available on Chris Mansell’s YouTube channel.

The box (above) contains poems in a variety of forms -on slides, in a booklet, in a folded typewriter poem etc. ‘The Quiet Book’ (left) has no words at all. The structure of language is revealed in tags and in interwoven string.

(Both in the collection of Macquarie University).

Stung. Quad poems by Chris Mansell

(Well Sprung Productions, 2014)

Other poems were written for the page and to be read aloud.

Where edges are

She is effulgent in the dark halls of town.

She is listening but they are hearing.

Her skin is blistering and sharp with sparks.

She is listening for the crick of grass underfoot.

They are hearing her heavy paces.

She is straining to feel the hum of the air.

They are hearing her voice wailing

like a warrigal. She is being

quiet to count the breathing.

They are hearing the stertorous cracks

of her fine pure voice. She sings knife prising

the clenched hills shrieked and sharp with danger.

They are being calm and combing their hair.

She is brittling the unseen strings connecting.

They are wishing softly in the afternoons.

She is testing with her naked feet

where the oyster edges are.

[From The Fickle Brat (IP Digital)]

The unquiet city

we are succulents

our cool jade arms open

over clean tables our fine bone

china minds pull the strings

of our tongues together we plait

our thoughts with the television

back through the aerials and

transmission towers prodding

through the literal fog

the mechanics of which distance

does not startle us or the ears

pretend to hear the telephone

the page also wearies

us we have taken the meaning

out of things by laying them face to

face in our dictionary of emotions

we are so entirely alone that we

are unaware of it

and we enjoy the religion of solitude

because religions are at base

meaningless and we can turn

from them to a new hobby

to clean ashtrays or emptier

whiskey glasses we the women

of our building Margaret Gladys

Cecily Ida Eileen and I have

the cleanest washing on our block

we are proud and air our sheets

although it's a long time since

any serious stain or passionate figment

seeped through that censorious cloth

we have plants one of us has a budgie

and I have three fish the details

are unimportant God does not come here often

we would be suspicious if he

did without an identity card

we collect each others' mail

remind each other of garbage

days and are frightened

of the louts from the skating rink

but in the night I leave

my curtains open and air

my pendant tremulous breasts

[from Redshift/Blueshift (Five Islands Press)]

the beekeeper

the population controller

slips into disguise

his charming suit

his veil of words

conceals his gaze

he has laid out the fields

and filled them with blossoms

and counted the money jars

in his SimCity slim city

androgyn sharp

bodies are worry perfect

slicked back souped up

cool as drone

the neutered ones

will dance for one another

in the pages of glib

they make their idea

hexagonal cubicles

gleam with honey

they gel their wings

catch their reflections

in passing pools

hope they'll win

somehow against

the odds

they won't

the beekeeper has

a boxed and ready fear

of bees

he won't

let them forget

he tells them

duty honour

the sacredness of home

and holds a smoking gun

for dissident and obedient alike

those who gather in the courtyards

of fame he'll teach his rules

those who gather in the squares

he'll fight with guns and scorn

those who write destinations in the air

he'll silence

his fields and his alone

are edible he'll say

and all the rest are poison

and all those who disagree

are fools or mad

and must be fought

for sanity and for country

and the bees obey

[From Stalking the Rainbow (PressPress)]

[FIVE N TWENTY] blackbirds

1 noun verb

2 important thing

3 image noun adjective

4 important very important

5 other thing

6 and then

7 with pause

8 due hush

9 language all done

10 up with rhythm like

11 you've never paused

12 before

13 that's what it

14 is when the word

15 is significant

16 blackbirded

17 italicised blackbirded

18 this way

19 isn't it?


1 all hushed

2 up like drill sergeants

3 with the flu inappropriate

4 simile shock or surprise

5 another inappropriate simile

6 like a drunk celebrity

7 but language turns

8 here you expect

9 a sort of dull sense

10 a sort of insistent

11 dogmatic strophic

12 sense

13 and a dying

14 fall begins

15 regret perhaps

16 perhaps regret

17 repeated for effect

18 yes regret

19 yes

begin to sing

1 where sing

2 is a metaphor

3 for poem much used

4 but okay now you

5 bring in the missing

6 biography

7 not so that it seems

8 an ego thing

9 naturally not

10 but so it seems

11 natural and

12 inevitable

13 to speak of

14 one's life as a form

15 of international history

16 ah yes at this point

17 double back break

18 or insult

19 the form

dainty dish

1 and

2 now

3 lightness

4 single

5 discrete

6 words

7 slow

8 like

9 an anvil

10 being

11 clanged

12 in a dull

13 dawn

14 the fire

15 red

16 the movie

17 credits

18 beginning

19 to roll

before the king

1 Strong.

2 With caps. And

3 Interesting line

4 Breaks, and

5 Punctuation.

6 Yes.

7 (Aside.) Though

8 You would not

9 Risk an Exclamation

10 Mark! Note!

11 Incidental

12 puns!

13 How amusing!

14 Conceal a witty

15 Joke. See how

16 Three people

17 Get it.

18 And one of them

19 Is you.

[from [FIVE N TWENTY] blackbirds]