|Place of Birth||Adelaide, South Australia|
BioI began my professional writing life in the Adelaide nest that harboured the beginnings of Rupert Murdoch’s leviathan; that original afternoon tabloid, The News, is no more, a victim of The Beast’s corporate oedipal complex. Those were days when journalism was a noble pursuit; it still can be, but in my darker moments I believe the news media, for the most part caught in the pincers of state interests and the corporation, to be irrevocably held hostage to the Josef Fritzl that is the entertainment industry.
Exploring knowledge, art and expression in a myriad fields and forms, including more concerted forays into creative writing, occupied me in Sydney through the 1980s. In 1991 I began university studies as a mature-age student, and I concentrated on academic research and writing with a focus on Middle East politics, history, society and economics. The academy teaches a great discipline in writing: sound arguments developed and presented on the foundations of thorough research, sober analysis and zero tolerance for error. At least, that is the theory, and the ideal. However, presuming the scholar is capable of coherent composition in the first place, the rigorous approach inherent to this form of writing is often taken too far, and the most basic purpose of any writing – to communicate – is lost in a dry, jargonistic ocean of a virtually unreadable progression of words: the polar opposite of the mindless dumbing down of language and the pursuit of celebrity, sensation and scandal in the popular media.
My book on Saudi Arabia was published in 2003 while I was still in Beirut, where I also made a return to performance poetry; in 2004 I organised, I am told, Beirut’s first public performance poetry events, at least post-civil war. It was a welcome change from sub-editing, page editing, feature and editorial writing (sometimes all at once) in the surreal, high-tech sweatshop that was the editorial department of Beirut’s Daily Star newspaper. It was towards the end of my nearly four-and-a-half years in Beirut that I began exploring both creative and nonfiction writing with a new focus, and contemplating a fusion of the two. Since then I have worked at developing my own style of literary nonfiction, to integrate techniques of creative writing with academic discipline, bearing constantly in mind the imperatives of effective communication.
Coming to the United Kingdom was going from one extreme to another, reminiscent of the creative–academic–journalistic writing divides. Extremes are not healthy, and while the Lebanese and British physical and social environments are entirely different, they both represent extremes, and they do, in fact, overlap in many ways. One country struggles against the odds to develop and better itself; the other, suffering from advanced post-imperial decay and neoliberal–corporate exploitation, teeters on the edge of First World status. Both are pseudo-democratic, authoritarian states, one fractured along religiopolitical lines, decentralised and weak; the other strongly centralised and applying new technology to advanced methods of population control in its relentless drive to an Orwellian future. I should add that neither are particularly unique in the realms of human experience.
In June 2006 I helped found the Hereford Writers’ Group; a year later I left the group before I was expelled. I was, in fact, fearful of being run out of town. After experimenting with more traditional forms of creative writing, my transgression – in the eyes of many of my fellow writers and fine upstanding citizens – was to submit to the group some short pieces such as would not be out of place in SomethingDark. Fortunately, by that time I was a contributing editor and writer for the London-based, international fetish magazine, Skin Two, then in its twenty-third year of publication. In 2008 I became the magazine’s features editor, and was a close observer to the process that saw its closure and the birth of what was meant to be a new series of glossy books. I am pleased with my role in what turned out to be the only Skin Two hardcover book in early 2009: economic crisis and fickle readerships saw the demise of the publisher soon after (since resurrected and producing a new version of the magazine).
My own ever-evolving cultural interests in any case meant it was time to move on, and the result is SomethingDark, which I trust can speak for itself.
2016 MC and reading from SDk03, exhibition opening event, “The built environment and urban decay”, SomethingDark in Berlin. Ivooo Gallery, Studio & Store, Berlin, 2 September 2016.
2016 Event organiser & exhibition curator, “The built environment and urban decay”, SomethingDark in Berlin: SDk03 launch event and exhibition. Ivooo Gallery, Studio & Store, Berlin, 2–11 September 2016.
2012 “Is there too much 'freedom of the press', or not enough?”, Sexual Cultures: Theory, Practice, Research. Brunel University, London, 20–22 April 2012.
2012 “Art, censorship and moral hysteria”, public talk presented as part of the Art Erotica 2012 exhibition speaking programme, Gallery 27, Cork Street, Mayfair, London, 21 January.
2010 “On the edge: BDSM and heteronormative denigration”, presentation at the Socio–Legal Studies Association Annual Conference (UK), Gender, Sexuality and the Law stream, University of the West of England, Bristol, 30 March–1 April. (Paper available as a downloadable PDF)
2006 Guest speaker, "Can the situation in the Middle East get any worse? Of course it can!" Palestine Solidarity Campaign (Hereford branch): Hereford, England (26 Sept).
2006 Performance poetry, Lydney Poetry Slam: Lydney, England (21 July).
2005 Expert participant, Workgroup 9, "Terror Financing". International Summit on Democracy, Terrorism and Security. Club of Madrid: Madrid, Spain (8–11 Mar.).
2004 Performance poetry, The Full Moon Club, Bannerman's Bar: Edinburgh, Scotland (9 Sept.).
2004 Performance poetry, “Exposure”, Edinburgh Fringe Festival: Edinburgh, Scotland (19 Aug.).
2004 Organiser & performer, performance poetry events, Torino Express café–bar: Beirut, Lebanon (11 Apr. & 11 July).
1999 Conference paper, "Saudi Arabia on the eve of globalisation: The end of the boom era and socioeconomic change". Australasian Middle East Studies Association (AMESA) Annual Conference: University of Sydney, Australia (23–24 July).
1999 Conference paper, "Foreign aid and defending the rights of Muslims: Saudi Arabia and the genocide of Muslims in Bosnia-Hercegovina". The Centennial of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Conference: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (25–28 Jan.).
1998 Conference paper, "The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Elements of instability within stability". Australasian Middle East Studies Association (AMESA) Annual Conference: The Australian National University, Canberra (18–19 Sept.).
1997 Performance poetry, Tilly’s Devine Café Gallery: Canberra, Australia (11 Nov.)
1997 Interview & live-to-air poetry readings, ArtSound FM103.1, Canberra independent arts & music radio: Canberra, Australia (30 Nov.).
1997 Performance poetry, “Poets in the Pub”, hosted by playwright, poet & author Jennifer Compton at the Bundanoon Hotel: Bundanoon (NSW), Australia (monthly).
1996 Guest speaker, "Israel's nationalisms: Secularism versus the religious". The Humanist Society of NSW "Open Forum": Sydney, Australia (3 Jan.).
1995 Conference paper, "The reconstruction of political opposition to Saudi rule in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf war". Australasian Middle East Studies Association (AMESA) Annual Conference: Macquarie University, Sydney (22–23 Sept.)
1993 Seminar paper, "The demonisation of Muslims". Face to Face with the Crisis in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Moral, Political and Humanitarian Issues, a one-day seminar hosted by the University of Wollongong: Sydney, Australia (29 Nov.).
1993 Conference paper, "Muslims and the media in Australia". Australasian Middle East Studies Association (AMESA) Annual Conference: Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia (2–3 Oct.).