Phillip Hall

Phillip Hall lives in Melbourne’s Sunshine where he is a passionate member of the Western Bulldogs Football Club. His publications include Sweetened in Coals (Ginninderra Press), Borroloola Class (IPSI), Fume (UWAP) and (as editor) Diwurruwurru: Poetry from the Gulf of Carpentaria (Blank Rune Press). He is currently working on a collection of ekphrastic poetry, inspired by an Objectivist poetics, which celebrates Melbourne’s western suburbs while tackling such issues as mental health and sport as performance art.

Phillip Hall Reviews Robert Harris’s The Gang of One: Selected Poems

In ‘The Day’, Harris writes a stunning eschatology for Gough Whitlam. For Harris the dismissal was ‘the day of deceit’, ‘the day to lose heart’. As I write this review, I too am demoralized and anxious, despite the beta-blockers.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged ,

Phillip Hall Reviews Quinn Eades and Gabrielle Everall

St Ignatius of Loyola is supposed to have said: ‘Give me a boy until the age of seven, and I will own the man’. Well, the Baptists had me for a lot longer than my first seven years, and subsequently, I have lived a most conventional life.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , ,

From Garden to Gallery

In the Garden I cross the threshold of glasshouses seeking succor with bromeliads whose leaves are banded with scales, like blotting paper, to inhale this morning’s fog: outside I meander amongst upright natives: one is shaped like a pine but …

Posted in 79: EKPHRASTIC | Tagged

Phillip Hall Reviews Judith Wright, Georgina Arnott and Katie Noonan

When Judith Wright died in 2000, at the height of Prime Minister John Howard’s cultural hegemony, Veronica Brady was called upon to deliver a eulogy at the public memorial held in Canberra. This eloquent and impassioned speech was reprinted in a national newspaper under the headline, ‘Giant in a Land of Pygmies’.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , ,

Phillip Hall Reviews Maggie Walsh

Maggie Walsh is a Bwcolgamon woman from the First Nations community of Palm Island, a tropical paradise located in the Great Barrier Reef only sixty-four kilometres northwest of Townsville. But this is a paradise with a troubled history since European settlement – with a lack of jobs and housing, and a tragic reputation for violence and disadvantage. In 1999, for example, the Guinness Book of Records named Palm Island as the most violent place on earth outside of a combat zone.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged ,

Phillip Hall Reviews Ink in Her Veins: The Troubled Life of Aileen Palmer by Sylvia Martin

This biography is another powerful testament to the tragedy of difference. Sylvia Martin writes of an idealistic creative pragmatist who was victimised for her gender disphoria and, while loved, never accepted. Aileen Palmer is yet another outspoken and independent woman hounded to the mental hospital and shock treatment.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , ,

Phillip Hall Reviews Connie Barber, Meg Mooney and Jenni Nixon

These three poets, who exist outside university creative writing and humanities faculties, have ‘chosen’ a publisher independent of Australia Council arts funding and have been somewhat neglected by critical attention and awards recognition. All three poets collect richly lyrical and narrative poetry that praises the natural world and interrogates different aspects of our ability to live in it respectfully. All three collections are beautifully presented and feature stunning cover artworks that reveal each poet’s preoccupations and intentions.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , , ,


The bardibardi call time on mununga slogans of ‘stop the boats’; shaping-up and giggling their Makassan memories of brown bodies coming ashore in a spray of surging sea: for centuries these boat people cultivated tamarind trees in a highlight of …

Posted in 74: NO THEME V | Tagged

Phillip Hall Reviews Mick: A Life of Randolph Stow

Suzanne Falkiner describes her aim in writing this biography of Randolph Stow as being ‘to contextualise the [literary] works within the broad arc of Stow’s life’. She notes that Stow’s desire for an ‘authorial invisibility – and an accompanying silence – extended to a desire for a chameleon-like camouflage in his personal life’. This camouflage included a retreat from Australia and ‘from the world of published books, in a gradual progression towards silence and into a richer inner landscape’. But, Falkiner shows, this ‘richer’ inner life was always plagued by depression (and one serious suicide attempt), a one-time addiction to prescription drugs, a very complicated (dependency) relationship with alcohol, a fear of madness and a failure to establish long term sexual relationships and to acknowledge and accept his sexuality.

Posted in BOOK REVIEWS | Tagged , ,

Natural Selection: Ecological Postcolonialism as Bearing on Place

Australian poetry reminds us that we cannot encounter the natural world except by cultural means.

Posted in ESSAYS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Talking English

The Gulf’s ancient tongues are hobbled by inherited trauma, gene-crackers sadistically scabrous and burgeoning in the remembered fluency of wire-tipped stockwhips and all those manhandled civilisers of a splendid frontier’s orders. And though munanga were not to prosper in these …

Posted in 72: THE END | Tagged

New Moon

for my bardibardi kujaka: Gloria Friday, Marjorie Keighran & Clara Roberts This is my recovery road, to follow the bardibardi into the Gulf’s wild pharmacy; I let myself surrender to those hallelujah hands outstretched to a sandalwood’s leafy collection dis …

Posted in 71: TOIL | Tagged

My Intervention (in Cowdy)

My Intervention story began in 2011 when I moved to the Northern Territory’s remote Indigenous Borroloola community; a designated growth town located in the Gulf of Carpentaria, a few hundred kilometers from the Queensland border.

Posted in ESSAYS | Tagged

Dystopian Empire

Gossip spot-fires in Borroloola’s Big Camp, excitement incites The Gravel, at Malandari, shopkeepers look up from their stocktaking and the whitefulla foreskins forget their power: dem people fightin’! twobula bardibardi ini dirt an dem whitefullas can’t stop’em… The grey nomad …

Posted in 66: OBSOLETE | Tagged

Borroloola Blue

All around our steel home’s broad bull-nosed veranda we’d jack-hammered rock, dug garden beds and ponds, fenced an oasis as we planned for shade, blossoms, wildlife and fruit. Amongst the natives we’d cultivated paw paws, frangipanis, mangoes, bananas … Security …

Posted in 66: OBSOLETE | Tagged