Sunday, June 21, 2009



Word and Image

July 2009

WELCOME to the first edition of our new online magazine. The Group grew out of a desire by its founding editors - James Bradley, Billy Marshall Stoneking, Mark Mordue, John Birmingham and myself - to draw together some of the most interesting writing, art, photography and video being created now.

This will be done purely through web links, so the magazine may appear at first to be rather small, but its reach is as great as the world wide web itself. Some of the works you will read and see will be new, and some will have appeared previously elsewhere, but are included here to give them a broader audience than they might otherwise have had. Inevitably, an undertaking like this is something of an experiment, but the idea at present is for monthly editions. Each edition will be edited by one of the founding team, though we expect to have others join the editorial team. Submissions will be open to all members of the The Group on Facebook. We also ask all members to disseminate the link to each edition far and wide as possible to attract more members and help the undertaking as a whole flourish. To help interest people not yet members of Facebook, the magazine is being created on our own blogspot, and so be viewable to all.

SOME years ago when I briefly resided in New York, I liked to read Spy magazine, especially a column called "Log Rolling" which collected tit for tat glowing reviews by writers for each other's works. In Australia now we would appear to have a reverse log roll in motion, after one of the nation's well known dramatists, Louis Nowra, dropped a bucket on author, speechwriter and witty racounteur, Bob Ellis, in the pages of the Australian Literary Review.

In a literary community as small as Australia's it's hard to believe the pair's paths had hardly crossed, as Nowra states in his review of Ellis's latest book - but it seems highly likely their fates will be linked hereafter as Ellis inevitably contemplates a season of response. Whatever the case, one can sense a probable higher rate of quotation in the near future of the famous Clive James poem, "The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered". In GROUP 1, James Bradley writes of the grand tradition of literary bloodsport.

Also in this edition, Mark Mordue speaks with the master of modern American crime fiction, Elmore Leonard; Billy Marshall-Stoneking travels to Iran to deliver a speech on the art of storytelling, in "Creativity, Spirituality and the Art of Mediumship"; and Adair Jones takes us down the byways of memoir in "Tangled Memories". There is also fiction from prizewinning author Susanne Gervay and Jane Smith, photography from Juno Gemes and Hugh Hamilton, and the art of Gary Willis... and more.

I hope you enjoy Group 1, and please feel free to post your responses on The Group page. Debate and discussion is part and parcel of this project.

-Larry Buttrose,

co-founder, The Group


LITERARY bloodsport would seem old as literature itself. The barbs of Aristophanes and Dante's careful placement of rivals on the rather lower rings of hell, the jests of Shakespeare and jibes of Cervantes, all attest that taking a swipe at a fellow scribe is nothing new.

Novelist James Bradley reflects upon this grand tradition.

Bob Ellis - pic Juno Gemes

ALONG with many others, Mark Mordue believes Elmore Leonard to be the undisputed master of American crime fiction. Now 83, Leonard has just published his 44th novel, Road Dogs. Mark spoke with him last year while he was developing the novel, and celebrating the release of a book collection of his early cowboy stories from the 1950s.

TOTALITARIANISM had sucked out the soul of Rumania but there were still signs of humanity when the Australian doctor came to the country to help to rebuild.

The Baby is Sweet: fiction by Susanne Gervay

TWO hapless but not-so-innocent Aussies abroad cut dirty deals with the Burmese military junta in Jane Smith's satirical short story Cowboy in Burma.

ADAIR Jones reflects that truly interesting memoir presents the complex layering of life with memory, remembered life with how one remembers. This takes wisdom, many years lived, a depth of thought, and a dedication to unravelling wild tangles.

FOUR months before the recent Iranian elections and the violently suppressed unrest that followed the rigged poll, Billy Marshall Stoneking travelled to Tehran to deliver a lecture on love, storytelling and art.

Here is the text of his speech at the 1st Fadjr of International Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Tehran on 5 February 2009.

VERITY Hill confronts the meatlocker in the short fiction The Mannequin Cage.

JOHN Birmingham opens a new front in the Battle of Sexes, launching a full frontal assault on political correctness. Moscow will be his, he is sure, and that it will all be over by Christmas. The truth is, of course, is that it is usually all over at Christmas.


Don Quixote, Scar, Tin Drum Love Song by Gary Willis

Melbourne artist Gary Willis was one of the first Australian artists to work in performance art in the 1970s, but in the 1980s turned to drawing and painting. During the 1990s he found an enthusiastic patron in Arthur Boyd, and he lived and worked for most of the decade in London. Returning to Australia he travelled through the outback painting in a camper van for VOST, his take on the Patrick White classic, the paintings later exhibited at the Baillieu Library at the University of Melbourne. Recently his work has been part of a retrospective of the studio he has shared with a group of Melbourne artists, the Gulag.

During the 2009 Sydney Writers' Festival, 120 writers visited photographer in residence Juno Gemes in The Light Room. Juno has given GROUP 1 an exclusive first publication of photographs of seven writers who posed for her camera.

Isabelle Carmody pic Juno Gemes

IN October 1996, photographer Hugh Hamilton attended the annual rodeo at the notorious Angola Prison on the Mississippi River in Louisiana. “The rodeo itself was wild. Events you'd never see in a normal rodeo. I think the inmates actually want to be injured. Injury means hospital, and that means not having to work the fields.”

WHILE book reviews provide plenty of log-rolling and bloodsport opportunities for otherwise sedate and sedentary writerly types, the hoax provides another ideal outlet for the venting of literary angst. It is usually perpetrated by the hoaxer upon the hoaxee for purposes of artistic, ideological or personal point-scoring. Creditable tallies were racked up by both sides in Australia's most famous literary hoax, that of Ern Malley back in the 1940s, as Larry Buttrose writes.

THE day comes


THIS is the day of the poem

by Chris Mansell

OZYMANDIAS. Unlike Flaubert and others in the decades to come, Shelley never saw Egypt. But in the mode of the classic 19th century armchair traveller, that did not deter him from writing about it: Ozymandias is perhaps his finest poem, of human folly and frailty. This 1980s music video of it features memorable music, and an extremely earnest recitation.

BARBARA'S light remains undimmed for her legions of French fans - and farflung foreign legions - long after her death. Melbourne singer Fiona Thorn pays homage performing the Barbara song La Colere in her show Fais Moi Mal Johnny at the Butterfly Club. With David Abiuso (bass), Louise Godwin (shaker) and John Thorn (piano).


James Bradley is the author of three novels, Wrack, The Deep Field and The Resurrectionist.

Pic: Bronwyn Rennex

Mark Mordue is a writer, journalist and editor living in Sydney's inner west. He is the author of Dastgah: Diary of a Headtrip. He is currently completing a novel for his MA in Writing at UTS.

Pic: Ingvar Kenne

Susanne Gervay is an award-winning short story writer, and childrens' and young adult author.

Jane Smith is the author of Finding The Shelf Within: Spiritual Development through Home Improvement, published in Australia in April 2009. It will be released in the US in October.

Originally from New York, Adair Jones is an author, blogger, and reviewer now living and writing in Brisbane.

Billy Marshall Stoneking is an Australian/American poet/playwright, filmmaker, script consultant, teacher and author of seven books, including the modern-day classic, Singing the Snake : Poems from the Western Desert. His poem, Seasons of Fire, was recently selected by Les Murray and re-printed in The Reader (University of Liverpool, UK) as one of the 10 best Australian poems ever written.

Verity Hill: “I have hardly evolved beyond birchbark and animal blood. I live near enough to Toronto to call it home.”

John Birmingham is an old fashioned author.

He will write anything for anyone whose cheques don't bounce.

Gary Willis began exhibiting in the seventies, working in a variety of media, painting, photography, performance and video art. He was included in the 1979 and 1982 Sydney Biennales and has shown among other galleries at the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia, Reconnaissance Gallery Melbourne, Roslyn Oxley Gallery Sydney, and the Musee D’Art Moderne Paris.

pic: Max Pam

Juno Gemes is one of Australia’s most celebrated contemporary photographers. Known as The Movement photographer , she has also photographed writers for 30 years. In 2009 Gemes was Photographer in Residence at The Sydney Writers Festival.

Hugh Hamilton is an Australian-born photographer living and working in Los Angeles, where its always warm and sunny. He misses the rain.

Larry Buttrose is the author of more than a dozen books, including poetry, travel, biography and fiction. He lives in the Blue Mountains outside Sydney.

Chris Mansell has written six books of poetry and a number of smaller collections. She has won the Queensland Premier’s Award and been short-listed for both the national Book Council Award and the NSW Premier’s Award, among other prizes. She has also published a children's book, and written a number of plays.

Born a minor English aristocrat Percy Bysshe Shelley grew into a force majeure in Romatic poetry. A spirited free spirit, many of his works were avowedly political, among them his most famous, Ozymandias.

Multilinguist, writer and performer of musical comedy, jazz and cabaret, Fiona Thorn is also creator of Brazilian goddess Pastel Vespa, whose unique renditions of pop tunes are heard from discos in Germany to catwalks in Japan.


The Clive James poem, The Book of My Enemy Has Been Remaindered:

Promo video of Banksy show in Bristol (thanks Geoff Gifford’s Culture Now):

And for those who might not yet have encountered the literary singularity of the Dickman twins:


Editor this edition: Larry Buttrose

Founding editors: John Birmingham, James Bradley, Larry Buttrose,

Billy Marshall-Stoneking and Mark Mordue

All things being equal, GROUP 2 will be up online here in August.

To join The Group and contribute to this magazine, join Facebook and then go to:


  1. F1rst Post!

    I am ecstatic to see you have secured Percy Bysshe Shelley to contribute from the other side. Can you ask him how Michael is settling in and does he want me to keep playing his music.

  2. Percy says Michael is doing fine, though they had had certain "artistic differences". They have however starting working together on a rock opera version of The Masque of Anarchy. John Lennon is mooted to be under consideration for the leading role, opposite Janis Joplin.

  3. Oh yes I heard about that. Apparently Amy Winehouse is the understudy. Where is Britney Spears when you need her?

  4. Great to see something like this; wish you every success. Just two (technical) bit of feedback: 1. I suggest you choose a different background colour: links are almost invisible - even more so when you roll over them. 2. The link to needs an "http://" at the begining to make it work.

  5. Thanks for that Jonathan, and will address both matters.

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