by Vulgar Press in association with SA
Unions, my current book is Punch On Punch Off which was
launched in Adelaide on September 30, 2004 by SA Solicitor General,
Chris Kourakis QC, and in Melbourne on October 15, 2004 by CFMEU Victorian
President, John Cummins.
Geoff’s life, this collection twists and turns towards an acceptance
that time is not on your side. So, if the obvious injuries of class,
the broken ribs and racing hearts, get you down, try reading a couple
from up the back. The focus there is still as sharp as the language,
the beat of the lines no less insistent, but the framing is larger,
and not just because he is traveling the world. The screws, after
all, are everywhere. From start to finish, one point sticks out: the
truth is a question of who is allowed to know what. What’s more,
Geoff shows that it’s never too late to learn at least that
On Punch Off is a 72 page collection featuring poems about
work and workers. These are poems that detail the brutality and savagery
of working life and demonstrate its debilitating effects on blue-collar
and white-collar working people and their families.
a woman working on a building site and her story, a militant Irishman
on another, and then there are poems responding to the ten or twelve
hour days spent on some sites and the issues faced by those workers.
There’s a young woman shop assistant who has to vomit into a plastic
bag behind the counter because there is no-one to cover for her. There’s
a poem on John the bank robber, bragging about ‘how he never let
a gun show a tremble’, but also detailing the decay of fourteen
years jail and the boredom and attendant waste. On the other side of
the counter there’s a poem about bank tellers and the stress levels
they live with as they battle with less staff, longer queues and impatience.
Sounds familiar? It’s the Bank of Montreal in Canada, but it could
be … which bank do you think?
on the handing-on of particular knowledge and skills, and of the keeping
of it. Not to forget the perceived invincibility of the young , and
the sometimes tragic reality. Of the nature of contemporary work and
how a mobile phone is a pre-requisite as bosses’ demand that workers
be on tap 24/7. A poem too on the confusion as to just what are our
inalienable rights? And poems on the repetitive nature of some semi-skilled
work and the dumbing down effect that is often unmentioned…or
unmentionable. Often what happens at work has a profound effect within
the homes of workers and their families. These are areas of Australian
working life that demand a re-think.
On Punch Off contains poems that deal with the contemporary
migrant mix that don’t hide behind John Howard’s white picket
a collection of confronting poems about a confronting Australia. They
are poems too that revive material from Geoff Goodfellow’s earlier,
now out-of-print collection No Ticket No Start.
Goodfellow Punch On Punch Off
rrp $14.95 | ISBN 0 9580795 2 8
be published by the Vulgar Press
on 30 September 2004