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Author: Philip Harvey

  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Tolstoy’s war

    • Philip Harvey
    • 03 March 2022
    12 Comments

      One of the most memorable scenes in Russian literature relates the thoughts of a man lying on the ground staring at the sky in the middle of a major European battle. Prince Andrei Bolkonsky is wounded. He is placed in a situation where, instead of running, fighting, and thinking every moment might be his last, he is suddenly met with silence, grandeur, tranquillity.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Thinking through language: Editing poetry in Eureka Street

    • Philip Harvey
    • 02 February 2022
    2 Comments

      I was invited to read the poetry at Eureka Street by Morag Fraser, sometime in the mists. She shouted me coffee at the Chinese place across Victoria Street from the magazine’s Richmond offices. That was nearly twenty years ago. As we crunched on fortune cookies, she popped the question. I’ve been editing poetry at Eureka Street ever since and have only chosen to let go of the job this summer.  

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Your poetry questions, answered

    • Philip Harvey
    • 04 November 2021
    8 Comments

      Although I teach poetry and do occasional workshops, the following is written in response to one such workshopper, new to writing poetry, who in lockdown would message me on social media with fairly open-ended questions about poetry. My answers are written after the wry manner of the Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska; wry, but generally helpful. They are not the launch pad for a new poetics. I have stopped for now at 12 questions, but the questions keep rolling in.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    The days of the week

    • Philip Harvey
    • 20 April 2020
    4 Comments

    Reports of the rain are weak front, then strong. Sunshine headline news, or so it appears. I whisper the tune from a scratchy disc. Maybe Tuesday will be my good news day.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Clive James' poetry of memento mori

    • Philip Harvey
    • 29 November 2019
    12 Comments

    Obituarists sharpened their quills in 2014 when word had it the death of Clive James was imminent. Since then we have witnessed a late flowering of poetry, reviews and articles tinged with mortality that revealed to the last his Twainian flair for journalistic self-promotion, albeit in the internet age. Now the quills are out in earnest.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Pigeon English: a 'lost' Les Murray interview

    • Philip Harvey
    • 06 May 2019
    10 Comments

    'English became the best pigeon in the world, it picked up stuff from everywhere.' In this never-before-heard interview from 2013, the late great poet Les Murray reflects on his work, on language, and on what poetry actually 'does'.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Spirit wit: Five sonnets for Les Murray

    • Philip Harvey
    • 02 May 2019
    4 Comments

    You could contrive a meandering sonnet, broach the third level of meaning with ease — Once main lines are coursing and images breeze. You were in it, around, beyond, upon it.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Undeterred by Kondo, let your library overflow

    • Philip Harvey
    • 08 February 2019
    8 Comments

    It's all very well to remove excess furniture, but furniture is not books. How many chairs does one need? Chairs are not books. To reduce a library as a household expedience is to objectify the books. Their contents are emptied of value, their history relegated to out-of-date. They have no more meaning than books in an Ikea display room.

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  • ARTS AND CULTURE

    Remembering the many-sided Brian Doyle

    • Philip Harvey
    • 28 May 2018
    3 Comments

    The evidence, from one line onwards, was unmistakeable Doyle. Imitation was impossible, self-parody ditto. Gore Vidal loved to say that Tennessee Williams knew how to do only one thing, but he did that thing better than anyone else. Brian Doyle's poetry was a bit like that.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    An ode to speechless Bob Dylan

    • Philip Harvey
    • 04 November 2016
    10 Comments

    Initial silence from Dylan after the announcement of his Nobel Prize led one of the Scandinavian officials to complain he was being 'impolite and arrogant'. This prompted even more vitriolic opinion online on all sides, from fans, litterateurs, Dylanologists, and other armchair grenadiers. Just as things were getting completely tangled up in blue Dylan himself broke the silence to explain that news of the award had left him speechless. We shouldn't be surprised. Speechless is a normal state for a poet.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    A brief history of not drawing Muhammad

    • Philip Harvey
    • 18 February 2015
    10 Comments

    Why ban an image of Muhammad? Why is he an image-free zone? The answer is not primarily political or artistic but theological. The clue is in a statute of a meeting of bishops called the Second Council of Nicea. This may seem obscure and unimportant, but the bishops weren't obscure and the issue was whether or not humans can make an image of God. The outcome was decisive in the history of world art.

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  • INTERNATIONAL

    Dubious heroes of Wikipedia

    • Philip Harvey
    • 23 July 2014
    6 Comments

    Swedish physicist Sverker Johansson has reportedly written over 2.7 million articles on Wikipedia since 2001, at an average of 10,000 articles a day. Phil Parker is purported to be the most published author in history, successfully publishing over 85,000 physical books, each of which takes less than an hour to 'write' — 'patented algorithms enable computers to do all the heavy lifting'. But the real work begins after they have finished.

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