Friday, March 17, 2006

vale michael dugan

My ex-next door neighbour and friend of 25+ years Michael Dugan died yesterday. Michael had not been well for some time.

When I first met Michael he was in the King Hippo Poetry Band and played at Frank Traynor's Jazz Club although it was more like a "folk" venue. ( I think in Little Lonsdale St).

Extract from Laurie Duggan's (no relation) diary 1971:

"..6th December. I am committed to the poetry reading — SAVE THE PRAM FACTORY — Friday night. An ad. in the Review — Charles Buckmaster, Garrie Hutchinson, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, Russell Deeble, King Hippo poetry bank (sic.) & others. I despair that anyone would listen & fear that I will have lost all the courage I had in Canberra and Sydney in May. [The misprint should have read ‘King Hippo poetry band’, an outfit put together by Michael Dugan. I remember them on one occasion playing a folk-rock version of Keats’ ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’ before an audience of septuagenarians at a P.E.N. Club gathering.] "

I don't know a lot about
Michael's writerly life but he always was proud of the fact that he had never held a "real" job except for a bit of writing for the infamous Institute of Multicultural Affairs when he did There goes the neighbourhood - Australia's migrant experience.

Michael was generous in his help to young and beginning (and experienced) writers and was Vice-President of the
Victorian Fellowship of Australian Writers.

He was long associated with
Overland magazine and according to John Jenkins (another ex-neighbour from Michael's house if I recall correctly) :

"....after Overland 112, he (Barrie) handed the laurel wand (which could sometimes be a thorny one) on to Michael Dugan. During this time, Barrie also sought occasional input from Shelton Lea, myself and others. Michael continued to select poetry after John McLaren became editor in 1993 (for Overland 131-147) and for the early period of Ian Syson's stewardship, beginning in 1997, up until Overland 149. Pam Brown was formally listed as Poetry Editor in Overland 151, winter 1998. Previously, the role had not been publicly defined and was even sometimes shared between several people, with ad hoc input from Overland's 'extended family' of editorial helpers, although Michael Dugan, tirelessly and always meticulously, did the lion's share of this work. "

Kris Hemensley writes:

"We were thus excited to discover Crosscurrents magazine, edited in Melbourne by Michael Dugan, which appeared two weeks before my own. Both Taylor and I wrote to Dugan immediately, sending him our life work!, inviting him to our next La Mama reading. It is interesting that even in this small city, Dugan hadn’t heard of the La Mama readings, that presumably without co-ordination groups might exist in mutual isolation.
The poets published in the first issues of Our Glass and Crosscurrents make interesteing reading: Beard, Hemensley, Dugan, Taylor, Shelton Lea (who joined with the short-lived rivals of La Mama, Sweeny Reed’s glam-poets at Strines, Carlton, featuring that enigma, Russel Deeble!), Paul Smith (then a Cheshire’s bookseller), Romeril, Rushbrooke, Charles Buckmaster (whose address, Gruyere, was so unlikely that I was sure it was a hoax, but on consulting Mike Dugan, found that the same young poet, experiencing problems at high school, inspired by a single line of William Golding’s Pincher Martin he claimed, and a prolific poet if ever there was one, was real), Mal Morgan, Terry Gillmore (“influences — Pound, W.C. Williams, Olson, et al”: reading that in Crosscurrents made my heart flutter!), Geoffrey Egglestone, Frances Yule, Andy Jach, Norman Campbell Thomson, Maurice Benton. Add to these, Ian Robertson, who was a friend of Buckmaster, whom Buckmaster published in his own type-sheet, The Great Auk, in September, 1968, just prior to the first La Mama Poets Workshop Reading, and you have the nucleus of the poets who gravitated towards La Mama and/ or the little magazines, type-sheets, that sprang out of the place.

I don't know what to say except that as far as I know Michael never held a driving licence and always tipped taxi drivers a bit too generously for me.