Overloaded’s Alec Patric muses about meeting poet TT.O, who can be found at Glitch Bar and Cinema this evening for ‘But is it Poetry…?’ #2, reading with Sandy Caldow, Sean O’Callaghan, and Carolyn Connors:
A few months ago I’d never heard of TT.O. Despite what it says on his card (Famous Poet), I had no idea who he was. Suddenly I saw his name popping up everywhere I was looking. I got into a GDS and there he was beside me. I wrote a poem which was mostly ampersands and other signs and figures spread across a page and was told this was a TT.O inspired poem. I’d still not read any of his poetry. And then I had to practise pronouncing the name. At the last two launches I’ve gone to, we’ve talked poetry, meaning and why Ned Kelly had a dog’s head. I’ve written about him in my blog repeatedly but I’m still not sure why or who this man with no name is.
How then to understand the legend, if not the man? After much thought, I’ll suggest that if the darkened underworld of Melbourne poetry has a centre, it is a transcendental number, and it is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. In other words TT. The O is where the Famous Poet defines his position in relation to everyone else around him in the shadows of this demimonde of poetry. TT.O is not the centre, he just knows where it is.
It would be an insult to so chthonic a character to reveal him to the light of outright statements, so I won’t do that, but here are some parts of my posts that Maxine particularly liked. What I like about them myself, is that taken in this kind of disarray, they all the more resemble the spirit of this monumental Melbourne anarchist poet.
I met TT.O in a room filled with this country’s best and brightest literary figures. And those other kinds of figures… that simply read, and occasionally trouble paper with ink or mark up a screen with vanishing letters.
TT.O and I talked about poetry. “The sentence is a fact. The word is a metaphor,” he said, amongst many other inspirations and musings. We ate chocolate birthday cake and he soaked a sleeve in red wine. It seemed appropriate. I told him I spent eight years writing a novel in a (metaphoric) basement — was told that the novel was an inferior act.
That’s what it says on TT.O’s business card, below his name — Famous Poet. On the other side of the card it says:
to hell I was born
a 100 years
to read myself
I asked TT.O about the name TT.O. Because he was given another name when he was born and he was raised in Melbourne’s northern suburbs and was just another kid growing up with us. When he got his first job they would have asked him for his name and then told him how he’d go about spending his time for their purposes. Before he became a Famous Poet he became TT.O. But he wouldn’t tell me. In fact, looked like I’d asked him to tell me the secret of his soul.
I talked with TT.O about performance poetry; I asked him whether we were performing right now. He said, ‘if everything means everything, nothing means nothing.’ Or maybe he said that at some other point in the conversation. He slipped away before my eyes into gnomic sentences. Statements were applied to what I said for the sake of pattern and rhythm as much as meaning; a mind ordered by the disordering muse of poetry.
The ever elusive poet mind of TT.O, refusing to be pinned down on anything, yet full of insistence. Vague certainties and definite passions, namelessly animating his eyes like the memories of a supernova long ago witnessed. We argued about whether Homer belonged more to the rhythm and rhyme of poets or writers of characters and narratives. We introduced our wives to each other but went on in our Daphne/Apollo running game, though TT.O avoids capture not by transformations into things like trees. He prefers shoes.
TT.O’s latest book of new and selected poems, Big Numbers, is 38 years in the making and can be found at all good bookstores. That is, not many. The Overland Overloaded team personally guarantees every copy of this book. If you do not love it, please come back to us and ask for your money back. We won’t give it to you, and we might punch you in the face for having such bad taste, but in the interest of free speech, you can still ask.
About TT.O: Born: Katerini/Greece 1951.came to Australia 1954.raised: Fitzroy [inner suburb of Melbourne].reason for living: Stupidity!occupation: draughtsman.published the following books: Fitzroy Brothel, Panash, The Fuck Poems, The Fitzroy Poems, Street Singe, Ockers, 24 Hours (740pages), The Number Poems (148 pages).Has edited: Off The Record (anthology of performance poetry) 1985 (Penguin Books).Missing Forms (anthology of Visual poetry) 1980 [with P.Murphy and A.Selenitsch].“925” magazine (magazine of workers poetry 1978-1983) [with thalia, jeltje, barry mcdonald, jas h. duke, cathy johns].Fitzrot magazine.Biography and selected poems of the late JAS H DUKE (Dadaist poet) POEMS OF LIFE + DEATH.A founding member of the Poets Union.A founding member of Collective Effort Press.Has appeared on SBS Tv, ABC Tv.numerous appearances on ABC radio national, and local community stations including 2JJJ, 3RRR, 3CR etc.Has appeared in the movie “Sweethearts” directed by Colin Talbot.Has performed at most venues in and around the south eastern portion of Australia; festivals/prisons/universities/schools/buildinsites/offices/factories/trams/trains/buses.Represented Australia at the International Poetry Festival in Medellin in Colombia in 1997, the WELTKLANG FESTIVAL in Berlin 2003, Bangkok 2004 + 2005, and toured the USA (16 cities) in 1985.By disposition and history he is an Anarchist and has been involved in the Anarchist movement in Australia since 1970.is currently editor of the magazine UNUSUAL WORK.Has been poet in Residence at University of Wollongong in 2004.LEGEND.